On this last day of National Library Week, I wanted to write a love letter to the wonderful institution that is the public library. Some of my favorite childhood memories took place in the downtown branch of my hometown. My family took weekly visits, sometimes multiple times in one week, to our public library. My parents weren’t perfect; there’s no such thing. But they did one thing very right. They used reading and writing as a family bonding technique. It was the most wonderful activity they could have ever encouraged for their kids.
There are many places we could have visited as a family but they made it a point to bring us to the library every single week.
The library was free and a great way to spend family time, so we were there a lot. I can’t think of a better place to take a young child and reward them with prizes and praise for finishing a new book or reaching a new reading level.
Reading was even a factor in our weekly allowance. We received our allowance every Sunday if we had a good week (meaning we prayed the rosary every night, didn’t disappoint God, and confessed all our sins), but we had to complete one more task to get our weekly crisp $5 bill. We had to write a book report for one book we rented that week. I loved it. Writing was fun for me and it was the easiest way to earn my allowance.
From the moment we’d walk in, the library was my favorite place to be.
At the entrance of our local book heaven stood a massive fish tank. An aquarium that was so large, they built a small staircase so the kids could get to eye level with the fish. It was beautiful. Each time we visited the library, my sister and I would race to the fish tank and say hello. The blue water swirled with massive orange and yellow fish, darting through the tank.
After greeting the fish, we’d head on over to the kid's section. We designated a table for the four of us to meet at, and then everyone could leave to find their books. While my parents looked for religious books in Spanish, I ran to find the next Babysitter’s Club book to bring home, and then sneak off to read pieces of Harry Potter.
I couldn’t rent any HP because mom said those books were witchcraft and the priest at church had told them that parents shouldn’t let their kids read them. No problem. I got my fix by grabbing the latest book and sitting on the floor in the aisle where Harry Potter lived. It was my happy place.
Reading is such an important skill to encourage in children.
Reading allows them to develop their mind, use their imaginations, and lose themselves in a different world without a screen. It was a different time then because we didn’t have iPads to keep us busy on car rides; we only had books and our own imaginations to keep us entertained.
But even with the heavy presence of technology in our daily lives now, it’s important to encourage reading and writing in our children. You might just be planting the seed in a young girl’s mind that will one day blossom into a writing career.
If you aren’t already a member of your local library, take a trip soon!
You’ll be encouraging one of the healthiest habits by enriching your child’s vocabulary, expanding their minds, developing their communication skills and many more benefits. But the best part is you’re creating memories with your family by bonding in a happy and healthy way.
(And if you are childless like me, take a solo trip. The benefits of a library visit apply to adults too.)
© Jessica Lovejoy 2019. All Rights Reserved.