I know, I know… everyone knows what a public library is, but have you visited yours? When we made our first visit (around the time Kel was 1.5 and I was pregnant with Bebe) I was shocked and pleased to learn that our little library in the middle of a strip mall is actually a perfect place to take the kids for an hour or so. Kel and I went often before Bebe was born. He loved playing and exploring the children’s area. But once Bebe was born I lost my nerve, and was more comfortable staying home, than risking an infant that needed to be nursed or had a poopy diaper or an unruly toddler at the quiet library. But now I realize my fears were unfounded. We have made our return to our local library, having discovered Toddler and Preschool Storytime with Miss Ashlee. Every visit we find lots of parents/caretakers and kids ranging from infants to early grade school. I TOTALLY could have come while Bebe was a baby, but c’est la vie! If you are home with littles and looking for something to do, GO!
Here are my tips for how to make the most of your local public library…
1. Visit your local branch to get a library card.
Even better… get a card for your child(ren)! They even issue cards to babies (with adult’s help and information, of course). Kel loves using his library card, and even helps scan the books at the lower computer checkout station.
2. Visit the County Library website. (Fresno County Public Library)
The website provides information about all of the branches, including what events they are hosting and when. They also do seasonal reading challenges that are really fun for the kids to take part in. (We are finishing up their spring challenge, earning a FREE burger from In-N-Out for every 5 books we read!) The other thing that I absolutely LOVE using their website for is requesting all of the titles I am looking for online and then waiting for a call to tell me the books are waiting at my branch. In that year or so that I didn’t want to step out of the house with the kids, I would find great book recommendation lists on Pinterest and then request them at the library using their website. The county library system is all connected so even if my branch doesn’t have the book I want I can request it, and the branch that carries it will ship it to my branch and notify me when it’s ready to be picked up. (Warning: It can take some time to get the books in, so it’s best to request them in advance.) This has been great for us as our home library has grown a bit out of control but there are always more books to read! Now we don’t spend any money (unless I return the books late) and we aren’t accumulating any more things, but we are still getting to read tons of books! *To request books you must have a library card and log into My FCPL.
3. Visit your local library for a scheduled event or randomly to explore what it has to offer!
Like I said, our first visits were at random times to just read and play in the children’s area at the library. It was quiet and calm and Kel loved exploring the toys that were new to him. And though kids sometimes act out, the library is great place to introduce kids to social norms like speaking softly and sitting to listen to a story. We had a couple of incidents where Kel was upset that we had to leave and loudly cried as I carried him out. I was temporarily mortifies, but over time he has also learned proper library etiquette and is now working on teaching Bebe. I am such a rule follower that I have to remind myself that children need time to learn the rules through mistakes and experience. It challenges me and often makes me uncomfortable but I will keep pushing myself so my kiddos will gain the experiences they need to function in our world. That was a tangent to encourage you to GO! Don’t wait for the kids to get older… Go… and take advantage of all the great stuff the library has to offer!
Here is my morning with Bebe at today’s Preschool Storytime…
Today’s theme was the zoo. Miss Ashlee read multiple, wonderful stories about zoo animals. She picks great stories that engage the kids and adults!Between stories she leads the group in songs and poems that often get the kids moving and dancing. So fun!
At the end of storytime, there is a craft that all of the kids get to participate in (with the help of their guardian). Last visit we made newspaper hats. This time we “adopted” animals from the zoo on paper plates.
Once the kids finish the craft, the toy area is set back up and they are free to play with the toys and each other. Though my pictures don’t show it, there were lots of other kids playing with and around Bebe.I love the toys that the library has for the kids. They are fun and educational… the best kind!
Bebe’s new puppet friends!Seriously, go check out your library!!