Put the library into your parenting routine — you and your baby will thank the librarians!

The list of places you go with a newborn is short. Right now mine includes home, the pediatrician’s office, and my parents’ house. That’s it. Occasionally we’ll venture outside for a walk, but enclosed public spaces during flu season are just too risky for a little developing immune system. So even though there will surely be storytimes and play circles in our baby’s future, right now our local library doesn’t make the cut. And that’s okay.

As a librarian in the habit of placing holds and browsing digital collections, I was in a pretty perfect position to make good use…

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby. You are your child’s first and most important teacher. And your librarians want to help!

“With great power comes great responsibility.” Uncle Ben may have been cautioning Peter Parker about the moral obligations that go along with stepping into the role of a web-slinging vigilante, but it’s easy to see how these words could also resonate with new and expecting parents.

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby! You are your child’s first and most important teacher. If you have fun and create positive associations around books, your child will likely feel the same way! Make your home a learning zone: Talk! Write! Read! Sing! Play! As a children’s librarian, I’ve been…

3 Things Teens Need To Know Before Volunteering At The Library

Teen volunteers saved summer at my library. With their help, I was able to put on large-scale messy shaving cream painting projects, sign up more families for summer reading, prepare construction vehicle felt pieces for future storytimes, gather ideas for tween programs, and so much more. Teen volunteers lend their time and abilities to the library, making our libraries and the communities we serve all the better for it.

When potential volunteers come calling I am always grateful for their interest, but I am also cautious. Even before teens submit paperwork, I generally ask a few questions to get a…

Make it your own summer reading challenge to use the library to find books, comics, or articles that really speak to your child

Child climbing a slide
Child climbing a slide

It’s a quiet early evening at the library when a father and his soon-to-be eighth grade daughter approach my desk. I ask them how I can help and the father gestures meaningfully to the daughter. She shrugs and shakes her head. After a beat, he relents, “She needs help finding something to read over the summer so she doesn’t stop learning.”

Most parents don’t state the underlying reason so frankly, but this scene is one that will repeat itself again and again throughout the summer at libraries across the country. And for good reason! For years, we’ve heard about research

Libraries provide vital creative outlets for teens and tweens with an interest in expressing themselves

I don’t remember the first person who saw something in my writing. I can’t recall the first time I volunteered to share a story in class, or even the moment I had the impulse to put pen to paper on my own. And yet, the cumulative impact of these instances and others like them is clear: I was affirmed as a writer from a young age.

Inside and outside of school, I grew into this identity. I raised my hand during English class, I joined my high school newspaper and relished the extracurricular “Write-Off” competitions, and as I became more…

While libraries alone can’t break down every barrier, we do have it in our power to promote media and models that place people as heroes of their own stories.

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Popularized by Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Networks, these choice words have recently been given new life in the push for media representation. Perhaps you’ve heard about advocates such as Geena Davis (actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media) or the founders of We Need Diverse Books, Ellen Oh and Dhonielle Clayton, rising up to push back against their respective industries and make their message known: Visibility matters.

Here in libraries, we also play a part. Our key roles in communities mean that we…

It’s more than “How’s school? Where are you thinking for college? Do you know your major yet? How’s the job search?”

‘Tis the season for family gatherings where the teens and young adults
among us are inevitably hit with a familiar onslaught of prying
questions. Innocuous at best and insensitive at worst, small talk like
this usually comes from well-meaning relatives unsure of where else to
go in conversations with young people. But the truth is this rote line
of questioning often leads to a dead end. Teens rattle off their prepared answers, grown-ups give an empathetic sigh, and that’s pretty much it.

If that scenario rings true to you or adults you know, I have good
news: It doesn’t have to…

I was a teen who sometimes felt too panicked to function. Parties felt like minefields, my future seemed fragile, and the ways I could fail on a daily basis numbered near infinite.

This is what my anxiety looked like; a powerful yet invisible force that shaped my days and weighed heavily on my mind. At the time, I couldn’t quite put words to these dark feelings, but I could recognize them in the pages of the books I was drawn to read. Books like Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Even if the trauma was not my own…

The graphic novel trilogy March, by Congressman John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, gives readers a first-hand view of the civil rights movements. Book three won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. It is the first graphic novel to be awarded this prize.

The buzz around graphic novels for kids has officially grown into a roar. Blockbusters like Smile by Raina Telgemeir and the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi are requested on an almost daily basis at my library with readers as young as preschool-aged hunting for “comic books” created just for them. As advocates for literacy and reading for pleasure, you can imagine that this reading frenzy makes librarians like me want to do a happy dance!

Among the reasons to celebrate are the many benefits of graphic novels for reluctant and avid readers alike. Along with the confidence boost of blazing…

When word got out that libraries across the country were giving away eclipse glasses in advance of the August 21 solar eclipse, our phone started ringing off the hook. Teachers and parents, in particular, were eager to jump on the chance to engage kids in some real-world science and perhaps even inspire a life-long interest in astronomy. The fact that the eclipse promised to be a unique and memorable experience also made it all the more appealing to grab a pair of solar viewers and join the fun.

Breanna Coyle, 10, fills a balloon with the gas created from a chemical reaction between vinegar and baking soda during the Spring Break Science Program at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Library. Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Valerie Monroy

The fact is, while the push towards Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and…

Meredith Sires

Teen and Children’s Librarian

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