Take a look, in a book…
I love taking my kids to the library. For so many reasons.
For starters, I’ve noticed a strong correlation between how easy it is to get my 8-year-old to go to bed and how excited she is about what she’s reading before she falls asleep. Keeping her with a healthy supply of good books that she got to pick out is absolutely critical!
Our little one likes going, too. There’s just so much to see and do (and try to destroy).
Let’s get into all the benefits and my complete guide to taking kids, toddlers, and even babies to the library.
You should DEFINITELY be taking your kids to the library regularly — it’s free and jam-packed with books, fun kids programs, toys, games, and more. And it’s all educational. And did I mention free?
There are just a few things you need to know before carting the kids over to the library, so let’s take a look at everything it has to offer and my best pro tips.
Benefits of taking your kids to the library
Here’s why you should be regularly taking your kids to the library.
Exposing your kids to lots of books and reading time has an untold number of benefits.
What better place to do that than at the library?!
Bookstores are great, too, but can make for an expensive habit.
I also really like how picking books (for kids old enough to do so) fosters independence. If you’re going to potentially spend $15+ per book, you as the parent won’t be able to resist getting involved in the selection, and limiting it.
At the library, kids can pick out 2, 3, 4 or more of (almost) whatever they want. Don’t underestimate how much they’ll love that.
Young kids who read a lot, or are read to by someone, can experience:
- Improved empathy for others
- Better communication skills
- Reduced stress
- Improved language processing
- Improved grasp of metaphor and other right-brain concepts
- And more!
Kids who read frequently when they’re young often become lifelong readers and learners, ultimately leading to better academic outcomes.
And as for the parents, the library is a fantastic place to keep your kids occupied on a rainy day, without resorting to movies, TV, and video games.
The place is just jam-packed with learning and wholesome fun.
Kids activities at the library
There’s so much to do at the library besides the obvious.
Of course, browsing for books and doing lots of reading is the main attraction.
But check out your local library’s schedule of events and you’re bound to find a TON of stuff your kids will love.
You’ll usually find story time sessions for all ages, from baby/toddler to older kids. Librarians will hand-pick new favorites and classics for read aloud. Usually, they throw in some songs or group games to keep kids from getting restless.
Did you know that many libraries have a section of kids toys? My local branch has a small area with magnet letters, a whiteboard, puzzles, blocks, and board books that kids are free to use. It’s a great place to let your toddler explore the novelty of new stuff.
Along with story time, you’ll find a bunch of libraries have free sensory activities you can sign up for. Look for things like Lego Club, music demos and sing-alongs, and more.
In most areas of the country, you could probably visit the library every single weekend for something new, educational, and fun.
On the right day and with a little planning, you could spend hours (and no money) at the library with your children.
Finding good books for kids at the library
It’s so great to let your kids freelance in the library if they’re old enough.
Give them a set number of books they can check out (otherwise they’ll try to bring home a stack of 20) and let them loose!
But there are a few ways you can steer them in the right direction.
Do some research ahead of time to find books in their favorite genre and their age-group and use the library website to put them on hold. That way, when you arrive, they’ll already be waiting for you.
You can still let your child freelance, but you’ll know you’ve got at least one or two good ones set aside already.
Second, ask the librarians for recommendations!
They love this aspect of their job, they absolutely love books, and they’re extremely knowledgable.
(Did you know most librarians have a Masters Degree in library science?)
Try to get a sense of which books your kids really devour beyond just age-group. For example, I’m always pushing my 8-year-old to challenge herself with chapter books, but she loves graphic novels the most, so I let her get a bunch of those — above all, I want to encourage her enthusiasm and keep reading fun!
Finally, remember to teach your kids some basic library etiquette. Taking every single book off the shelves or sloppily reshelving them is a no-no.
Help them learn how to put books back in the right place and show them the bins/carts where they can put anything they don’t want.
Other library resources & pro tips
We’re seriously just scratching the surface of everything your local free library has to offer.
Here are a few closing tips and things you should look into before you go!
Reading and literacy programs – If your child is struggling at all with reading, a lot of libraries offer free assistance and literacy help. Learning to read is SO important for future academic success, so this is an invaluable resource.
Borrow more than just books – Did you know that most community libraries let you borrow things like tools, cookware, art, board games, movies, gardening equipment, and more? If there’s something you need that you’re not ready to pay for, see about renting it from the library!
Events and programs for parents – There’s a ton for adults at the library, including social clubs, book clubs, chess tournament and clubs, dance lessons, author meet-and-greets, and so much more. Take advantage!
Be mindful of computer time – A final tip: A lot of library computers in the kids area are loaded with games and activities, usually educational, so that’s good! But the computers may distract your kids from the books, so either avoid the devices altogether or set firm time limits.
Rainy or cold days with kids can be tough.
There are lots of fun places you can go, but most of them involve spending a lot of money.
That’s why the library is one of my all-time favorite places to take my kids! And not just when it’s raining, but all year round.
There’s just so much on offer there, and you’ll feel good knowing you’re fostering a lifelong love of reading and learning every second you spend there.
For more guides, check out:
Hope this helps!