I’m going to be honest here…we haven’t been to our local public library since before the pandemic began. So today we went and got new library cards and checked out a few books…Chickadee was especially excited, because this is actually her first library card of her own!
I really have to question the dedication of the librarians at our city’s public library.
The children and I were at the library this week, turning in logs for the summer reading program, and checking out books. While we were at the desk, Moose asked me what was upstairs. I realized the children had never seen the upstairs of the library, because that’s where the adult non-fiction books are kept, and while I’ve been up there, it’s never been at a time when the children were with me, even though I almost always choose non-fiction books for myself.
Before I could answer him, the librarian that was scanning our books interjected: “Oh, you don’t want to go up there. All that’s up there is boring books.”
Seriously? Did the librarian, someone who should be fostering a love of books and reading in children and adults alike, just tell my children that once you’re an adult, books are boring? Or that reading non-fiction is boring? Or even that a whole section of the institution for which she works is boring?
Now, maybe she was trying to save me the trouble of taking the children upstairs to satisfy their curiosity. But really, she should have left that for me to deal with. Or maybe she thought that they’d be an annoyance to the (occasionally) more serious crowd that frequents the non-fiction stacks. I’ve seen the adults up there, however, and most of them are checking e-mail on the library’s computers, or getting out of the heat, or reading a newspaper, not doing serious research. I’m hoping that her observation didn’t reflect her personal opinions regarding those books. Regardless of her motivation, though…telling my children that an entire floor of the library is filled with boring books? Completely irresponsible, and at complete odds with what her job is supposed to be!
If you’re looking for a way to encourage children to read over the summer, and have fun while doing it, there are plenty of opportunities available!
The most obvious–check with your library. Aside from regular story-times, many libraries also offer a summer reading program. If children read a certain number of books, whether weekly, or during the summer in general, they can win fun prizes. Our library, for example, has weekly book logs, (four in total), for toddlers up through grade eight. Upon returning the log, the children receive a prize, (something simple, like a super-ball), as well as coupons for free food–meals at places like Chick-fil-A, or free custard at the local custard place. At the end of the summer, they can get tickets to see the Gateway Grizzlies play baseball, and there are also raffles for various gift certificates, (Toys R Us and Build-a-Bear, to name two), and even Cardinals tickets.
Bookstores also offer fun programs to encourage reading. Borders has the most simple program–any child under the age of 12 simply fills out a book log with a list of ten books read. In return, the child gets to choose one free book from a list. The book list has a good selection of classics, such as Ramona the Brave and one of my favorites, The Phantom Tollbooth, as well as more modern books, like Ballpark Mysteries: The Fenway Foul-Up, and a good range of reading levels, from beginning readers, like Danny and the Dinosaur, up through children’s novels, such as Ella Enchanted.
Barnes and Noble has a similar program, but theirs is a little more challenging. Children in grades one through six, (note the specific age range), only have to read eight books, but in addition to listing both the name and author of each, they also need to make a recommendation as to who would like the book and why. In return, they also get to choose a free book, but they are limited to the selection of books appropriate to their grade level. I found their selection to be a little less appealing, but they do have some classics such as Nancy Drew and James and the Giant Peach. They even offer a few titles in Spanish, which I think is a great idea!
I don’t know if any other national chains offer similar programs, and I’m also not sure if independent bookstores would offer something similar, but it’s certainly worth checking into. Reading for pleasure is a great ability to have, and I’m glad to see so many different ways to foster this skill!
I thought this was a cool list of books that a Lutheran Christian should read/have in their library. I’ve found quite a few titles on there that I haven’t had the chance to read yet, so now I have so new material on my “to-read” list.
I wish they had included a category for music–at that very least I think that Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth and Heirs of the Reformation should be added as a staple of the Lutheran library–we all know how much theology is found in our beautiful hymns!
It has probably become evident by now that I have a small “problem” with books. I love books. I love reading for pleasure, I love reading to my children, I love seeing them read, I love discussing books I’ve read with other people…you get the idea.
I really prefer buying books. I love having a nice, organized bookshelf full of my favorites, books I want to come back to again and again, books that make excellent reference material, that sort of thing. Actually, our bookshelves are quite overflowing (Ryan likes books as much as I do, which is kind of disastrous!) and we have boxes of books in the basement.
My view towards books for school is no different. I really would rather buy the stuff we’ll be reading. That’s not really totally feasible, however, especially if we want to, I don’t know, continue buying groceries and paying the mortgage. So, apart from our curriculum books, which I of course buy, I try to limit my purchases to certain types of books. Books I know we’ll read over and over (the Ramona series, for example), books we’ll need over an extended period of time, special holiday books that may be hard to find at the library around said holiday.
Of course, even with those limitations, we own a lot of school books. But, frequent trips to the library are also part of school. Today, I needed to get the next Henry Huggins book, as we’ve finished the first three in the series. This particular series will eventually be part of our permanent collection because it’s so fantastic, but as two of the books are part of future Sonlight cores, I’ll wait to buy the remaining books until we reach those grade levels.
So, in I went to get Henry and the Paper Route. I found it right away, as I’ve become quite familiar with where the Henry books reside in the library. After I found it, I looked around for a bit. I left the library about 10 minutes later, not with the one book I had gone in for, but with eight!
I hate to think what my receipt would have looked like had I gone into Borders or Barnes and Noble, or even ordered from Amazon, and purchased eight books instead of one. I’m sure I would fall prey to the impulse buy just as much as the impulse borrow, although I try to be more restrained with the credit card than I am with the library card. I’m very thankful our area has a good library system to spare me some of the cost of my book habit!
The Good News: While browsing at the local public library last night (which can be a very hit or miss kind of situation!), I stumbled across The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book. I, of course, checked it out immediately. The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book is a favorite of both the children and myself in school (especially the tiger stories!), and I had no idea that there could be more Lion Storyteller books. Never even crossed my mind.
The great thing about these books is that they are stories from around the world. Some are familiar, some aren’t, but the illustrations are really fun, and we love finding all the countries on the world map. As a matter of fact, I can give most of the credit for my children’s surprising geographical knowledge to Lion Storyteller.
After flipping through the Christmas version last night, I was not disappointed. Bible stories, folk tales (some that are familiar, like the story of “Silent Night,” and some completely new to me), traditions around the world. I’m so excited about reading some of these during “Christmas school’; as a matter of fact, I’d love this book to become part of our “permanent collection.”
The Bad News: The Lion Storyteller books are published in England, and it appears that the Christmas one is no longer available for purchase in any American markets. Sure, I could ship it from England, but I don’t even want to know how much that would cost (not to mention I know nothing of the exchange rate, so I really don’t even know how much they want for the book, American-dollars-wise!).
So, I’m going to hope that I can grab it from the library every year, and the heck with anyone else that wants to read it! See, this is why I hate depending on the library for seasonal books–they don’t have a lot of them to begin with, and I’m either going to be the person who didn’t get ahold of it, or I’m going to be “that guy”–you know, the person who makes it impossible for anyone else to actually enjoy the book. Oh well…I can live with that!