I want my children to practice reading and therefore, obviously, I want them to take books out of the library. However, to be honest, I'm not much of a library visitor myself. I took my children to a public library twice and it was not much of a success. I know I should take them more often to the library, but I'm not quite sure why and how I should get them to the library. Can you give me some pointers?
Mother of Two
Dear Mother of Two,
In the past few weeks we discussed the why and the how to get your two kids to the library. Now that they are at the library and all of you (adults and children) are excited to be there, you have to make sure that they are taking out fun and enjoyable books for themselves. Books that will ensure repeat library excursions.
Here are a few tricks I've acquire over the years as a reader, mother of five and teacher of many:
When I was a child (I must have been around 9 years old), we used to go out every Sunday with our father to the local bookstore. We would each buy one book (back then, books were actually cheaper than what they are now). I remember being unsure of what book to choose. After all, buying a book is a serious commitment!
"I don't know, Daddy." I remember myself saying. "I'm not sure if I'll like this book."
My father gave me a rule, which to this day I use for myself and for my students: "Read three pages. If you don't like it - put it away. If you do like it - you will probably enjoy the book.
The second tip for a good book is to make sure the level is right. Have your child read one page out aloud. If your child has trouble with more than five words - the book is too hard for her. Remember - never let a child take out a book that is too hard! Reading must be enjoyable - not frustrating!
Another way to know if the book is at the right level is to time the reader. It should take up to two minutes a page. If your son really wants to read that book which is beyond his level - you can take it out to read aloud to him.
Know their interests! Guide them to the area with the books they will like. If your biology loving daughter wants to discover how coal becomes diamonds - check out the science section until you find the right book. Lead your son towards the fantasy section if that's what he loves. Utilize the librarian! They know where the right books are and what books are similar to the books your children have already read and loved.
Share books that you loved reading as a child. Offer I love you forever to your preschooler and the Narnia series to your 4th grader, if that is what you enjoyed as a child.
Have fun at the library!
Gaila has almost 40 year of experience teaching and runs A.H.A.V.A., a non-profit to promote English literacy. Would you like to ask Gaila a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message. Look out for more Dear Gaila columns