Why You Should Visit Your Local Library this Summer
Ah, summer. Days in the sunshine, water reflecting off of sparkling blue pools, leafy green trees dancing in the breeze. So fun. So relaxing.
Until the kids get tired of all that and come to you, looking for entertainment.
While I’m all for teaching kiddos the importance of housework and finding their own things to do, I also tend to be a homebody and struggle to make sure we engage with the community during the summer. I aim to get them out and doing something semi-educational once a week during the summer, because I also believe that rest and free play are important. One of the simplest ways to keep kids educationally engaged during the summer is with reading.
Reading is important for many reasons. I’m a bit obsessed with it, to be honest, so I’m not entirely unbiased here. But reading helps encourage empathy, expands vocabulary, and inspires imagination. Teachers have even said the best way to keep your mind sharp over summer break is to read.
But…books are also expensive, if you read a lot. As someone who reads, on average, at least one book a week, I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I read. I take advantage of my library’s online ebook library to check books out directly to my Kindle, and also check out physical books from the library. My kids love going to the library, because I’m more likely to say ‘yes’ when they ask if they can get something! They know we have to bring it back in three weeks, but they like exploring new books, choosing a few, and then reading them on repeat until we take them back. It also allows us to preview books, so to speak, and if they love them we can put them on their wish lists for Christmas or birthdays.
Besides the obvious joy of just choosing and checking books out at the library, most libraries also offer events just for kids all summer long. Elementary and older kids have school libraries during the school year, but it’s easy to fall behind in the summer. If you’re a local reader, you know the Knox County Library is trying to read to the moon this summer. This means space themed events all summer long- from a magician to chemistry experiments to LEGOs to puppets. They even have a collaboration with the local fire department to teach fire safety and response (AKA don’t hide, even though the firemen can look scary in all their gear). With the addition of story times, there’s just so much going on at the library.
I wrote a love letter to our library last year, as we attended many of their events. My six year old still talks about one event with the humane society, where he was taught how to responsibly handle pets (asking permission before petting, what to do if a dog charges at you, how to pet gently). Our libraries also leave out coloring materials, have a checkers board, and offer weekly craft sessions for kids.