Libraries Empower Parents to Make Smart Choices for Their Children
Libraries provide a variety of services for all types of people and situations. An important role in a library’s work in the community is not only to help local patrons in the present but prepare community members for a better future. What better way to do this than helping those who are raising the next generation? There are endless resources that libraries can give to parents that guide them through raising their children. Libraries never force ideas but rather empower people to make smart choices for themselves. When parents have the right tools, they can make better choices for their children.
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Children Need Choice, Voice, and Action
Each generation of kids is growing up in a society that is completely different from their parent’s generation. One thing that hasn’t changed is that kids need to feel capable. It is no secret that empowered parents will empower their children, and libraries understand that. Children need to have a space to develop and share their thoughts and act in what they are passionate about. Adults play a key role in helping children grow into their confidence. They can do so through having a choice, using their voice, and action.
Choice: Children feel more empowered when they can influence their environment, even if it is only through small decisions. They must be shown that their thoughts and decisions are valued. Parents can help guide this by letting them choose what books they want to read.
Voice: Parents and libraries show kids that their voices are important. Having a strong voice will take a child far, especially as they encounter larger problems as they grow up. Through guidance, they can be shown how to constructively share what they feel as well as listen to those around them. Parents can facilitate situations where children are encouraged to practice using their voices, like asking them to share their opinion or including them in family decisions. Allowing children to approach the library reference desk and ask for book recommendations from the librarian based on their interests can help children develop their voice.
Action: Showing kids they have the knowledge, skills, and capabilities to make a difference is important. Rather than dismissing the curiosities children have towards creating solutions, families should work to recognize that children are interested in making a change. Working together to brainstorm ideas and giving them chances to do their research at the library can be an important way to encourage action.
There are infinite ways that libraries support development in children and young adults. An important aspect of libraries is open access to high-quality resources and information. There is reliable information available for anyone to use as well as knowledgeable people working in libraries who can guide anyone through the resources. These skilled professionals can assist young patrons and their families through all the available tools. Teaching young people how to access research tools and information, and evaluate them, is just as important as providing the resources.
The support that libraries provide is also critical throughout a child’s education. It’s not just materials that libraries can offer their patrons. They are a safe place for children to learn and grow. It is a location where kids can work on schoolwork in a place that supports education and equality while providing an opportunity to develop social links.
In addition, libraries are great at supporting development through the programming they offer. A whole host of events and activities are organized to familiarize parents and their children with reading, information literacy, and digital literacy. They encourage patrons to become self-sufficient so they can make choices for themselves.
There are a lot of exciting and useful tools that libraries offer the community in all types of situations. Libraries source experts to guide important topics like managing stress, mental health, or college prep.
They are even prepared for unexpected situations. During the Coronavirus pandemic, for example, many libraries partnered with trusted sources and organizations to assist children in understanding the healing process. They also provided parents with the tools to talk to their children about COVID-19.
At the same time, librarians also took extra efforts to ensure children were getting the support they needed in the role of media mentors. Children’s librarians focused on fostering literacy by matching the right book with the right child. They did this by guiding children and their parents through the process of critical evaluation of digital content. Librarians taught parents how to verify the reliability of reading materials and sources. Rather than telling them how it works, they showed parents the best way to incorporate these practices into their family lives.
Empowering Parents and Caregivers
Libraries have this great ability to connect people within their community and match them with what they need to improve. Fostering strong relationships with parents and caregivers is a great way to support communities and students.
Libraries are open at convenient times so that parents and caregivers have more flexibility in library access. Work hours and other circumstances can prevent a parent from being able to visit the library. By opening doors during weekends and evenings, parents are given the extra time to access the information they need to support their children.
Many libraries provide early literacy support and education for parents. This gets families involved in the library from a young age. By educating families on early literacy resources and developmental programs they are providing a literacy lifeline for families. This can keep parents informed on key reading standards and put them in touch with those working in education who can provide insight.
Some libraries are beginning to involve parents and caregivers in planning library programs and book purchases. Creating Parent Advisory Groups is one way of familiarizing parents with books, the library, and the library’s procedures. This can show parents the importance of different materials and how to select them. These are skills that they can take home with them to support their kids in their reading choices.
Libraries are Here to Help
The work that libraries do in their communities is impactful beyond imagination. Empowering parents creates a powerful effect on the entire community and trickles down to creating empowered kids.