12 Back to School Tips from Your Public Library
One thing that librarians are always advocating for is reading. With back to school season picking back up — and with the state of the world as it is right now- parents might be nervous about how to best ensure their kids are staying engaged with their learning while, most importantly, staying safe. It’s understandable that with many changes like remote or hybrid learning and less in-person socializing with friends is enough to take any kid’s mind off of reading. While we are all writing the new “how-to” book on ways to help kids stay enthusiastic about reading in the midst of something as stressful as a global pandemic, these 12 tips are a good way to start and can help keep kids on track:
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1. Read With and to Your Child
Kids learn by example. This is why it is important to model the type of behavior you want to see as well as encourage their own growth and development by engaging with them. If you want your child to set aside time dedicated to reading, then you should too. Better yet, use this as an opportunity to spend quality time with your child and pick up a book as well!
Along with reading with your child, make sure to read to your child as well. This does not have to be limited to just children’s books. Reading aloud and taking turns reading is a great way to connect and support your child’s learning process. This interactive experience will engage your child in a positive way and help instill in them a love of reading and learning.
2. Be Consistent with Reading Times
We can all agree that there has been plenty of instability and chaos in the world. With so many unexpected events happening in your child’s everyday life make sure you create stability and consistency where you can. Setting aside specific times for reading will put some routine into your kid’s life. They can have some peace of mind knowing they can look forward to a steady activity each day. This will also help them stay on track with reading goals and encourage lifelong habits.
3. Let Your Child Control What They Read
Our goal in libraries is to help instill a love of reading and plant the seeds of being a lifelong learner. The best way to go about achieving this is to offer your child control over what they read. This sense of autonomy creates a sense of self-determination, especially for reluctant readers. Whether they are interested in aliens or history or fashion give your child the freedom to discover whatever books or magazines, or comics that can satisfy their curiosity.
With many things seemingly spiraling out of hand, giving your child the ability to make their own choices. Reading can give them a sense of confidence, power, and control over one aspect of their lives. And your local librarians are there to help you help your child grow through discovery.
4. Ask Your Local Librarian for Book Recommendations
Many libraries have limited access or are closed during COVID. This does not mean that libraries do not exist anymore. Remember, librarians are experts who specialize in knowing everything there is to know about reading. Whether your child needs new ideas or fresh recommendations that tie in with current interests, libraries are treasure chests of information that can help your child find what they are looking for.
5. Find Virtual Programs at the Library
Now more than ever, libraries are accessible online and virtually. Many have embraced digital delivery in the times of COVID and created many ways for the public to stay engaged from the safety of their homes. Look into virtual programming schedules that libraries offer. These events can range from cooking classes to book clubs to storytimes. Continue to cultivate memorable library experiences with your child to instill in them an appreciation for what libraries do.
6. Document the Books They Read
It is always important to celebrate your student’s achievements whether it is in the classroom or at home. Keep track of the books your child has read whether through lists, photos, or even a mobile app. Marking each book read as an achievement is not only fun, it gives your child a sense of accomplishment and pride each time they finish a new book.
7. Host Virtual Book Clubs with Other Families
Many families are choosing to participate in whatever learning environment they believe works best for them whether this means homeschooling, attending class virtually, in person — or even a mix of both. Keep kids connected with their friends and classmates even if they aren’t physically seeing each other by creating monthly book club sessions.
8. Talk About What You Read
Asking your child questions about characters and storylines is a great way to keep them engaged with what they are reading. Not only does this work with kids on reading comprehension, but it also develops important critical thinking and communication skills that will be important to them as they become older.
9. Delve into Different Types of Reading Materials
Have multiple places to build your child’s personal library. Ideas for places to look include Little Free Libraries, relatives, the bookstore, and, of course, the school or public library. Many places are offering contactless book pickups or deliveries which make finding access to books and other materials easy. Borrowing books from others can work the same way. Ask family or friends who live far away to do book swaps by mail or offer to exchange books through porch drop-offs so all parties are staying safe.
10. Change Up the Reading Environment
Before COVID, it was easier to spend mornings with kids reading in libraries or coffee shops. Nowadays, social distancing rules are in place and it’s best to make trips to enclosed spaces short. This does not need to take away from reading outside of the home. Bring picnic blankets to well-spaced areas of a park or set up hammocks or tents in your own backyard to provide a variety in your child’s reading environment.
11. Use Books as a Form of Travel
It’s understandable that people, especially your kids, are itching to get out after being stuck inside for so long. Use reading as a way to escape the world and experience adventures in new places. Whether they are reading nonfiction that highlights interesting mammals in the rainforest or a fantasy that sweeps them into made-up realities, books are a great way to continue “traveling” in a time where it’s not physically possible to.
12. Make Sure Your Child Has a Library Card
Last, but not least, sign your child up for a library card if they do not have one already. This valuable tool gives them access to endless amounts of resources online or at their fingertips. Check with your local library to see what safety regulations they have in place and what options they provide for your child when it comes to picking out their next set of books to read. The library is an immense resource and can provide great tools in easing the back to school process.