Libraries for Tweens - Tips from the Librarian

From programs just for tweens to securing the safest databases to do research, the public or school library should be your tween's go-to spot. 

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The years between being a child and being a teenager can be a confusing and difficult time. Parents of tweens may find their children struggling with the transition to more complicated coursework, new responsibilities, and learning how to grow up. Libraries are a helpful resource for children of any age and are a source of community support for those who need it. 

Libraries have dedicated programming and staff just for tweens. They help them stay on top of reading, find new interests, and explore a variety of topics and technology. For parents that have reluctant learners or readers in the house, the library is also one of the best places to reference. Parents will come to find that library visits will show their adolescents the fun side of reading.

Here are some tips and tricks for how to implement the library into your household schedule and your tween’s life. 

Explore Technology

Libraries are packed full of exciting programs and technology for students to use. Not only are computer labs a common sight, many libraries are also equipped with cool things like 3D printers, makerspaces, recording labs, etc. This is the perfect environment for your evolving kids to learn and experiment with a variety of technology. This could lead to a passion for engineering or videography. 

Oftentimes this type of equipment is expensive to keep in the home. Having them available for use at the local public library allows your tween to continue building and exploring without worrying about expenses. Even if your student isn’t concerned about playing around with all of the technology the library has to offer, there is always free wi-fi that they can take advantage of if they need a break away from school and home. 

Help With Classes 

Public libraries can be an underestimated resource for those that need help with classes. Tweens are just transitioning out of elementary school classes and stepping into higher-level math, science, and reading courses for the first time. Libraries are created to be a space of learning and teaching. Many libraries have resources compiled especially for students and can offer help in anything from learning languages to math. 

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has done just that. Their online web page houses plenty of school aid for those looking for some extra help. Just a few of their many resources include a homework help page which offers live tutoring assistance as well as online databases and encyclopedias for students to use for school assignments and research. These resources are remote-friendly, meaning that your kids can use them in the library or from the comforts of home or their favorite study spot. All students need to access these materials is a public library card. 

In addition, these online tween resources also give students access to a variety of services like BookFLIX for eBooks, read-along stories, and games as well as crafting classes like those that Creativebug offers. Test prep, language learning apps, and audiobooks are also resources offered. 

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Socialize and Study Space 

Libraries are well-known to be places of productive study. Students often head to the library to work on projects, prepare for exams, and utilize reference materials. These places were made to be welcoming and comfortable with private study spaces and large tables for students to spread out their books and papers. 

What many don’t realize is that this is also a great place to socialize. Group study in public libraries is easily managed since there are large tables that students can settle into as well as rooms that can be reserved for groups that need a private space. This is ideal for students who don’t want to stay a change of scenery from school and home. 

Expert Research Staff

Librarians are trained to be the best at finding, organizing, and evaluating information. Middle school students are usually stepping into more research-intensive projects, papers, and assignments for the first time. This can be overwhelming for some especially when there are millions of books and online resources to search through. 

Librarians are members of the community ready to step in and guide tweens through this process. They can show them which types of databases to use and how to efficiently search for information. There are certain tips when it comes to searching through reference materials like using quotations or special signal words like “and”. Librarians are familiar with this and can easily help your tween not only complete searches for one project but build the skills to be able to navigate other projects. 

Tween Programming 

Library programs made especially for tweens are also common. The staff at libraries are always coming up with new events and activities that may be relevant. Not only that, they are also great places to look for new ideas when it comes to events around the community of nationally. 

The New York Society Library created an entire page of educational resources relevant to students and their families that will keep them busy during quarantine. They include online and offline activities as well as helpful reading for parents and guardians of older students. A few ideas they’ve included are computer coding classes, Harry Potter-related activities, and book making. 

Tips for Parents When It Comes to Tweens and Reading

Reading does not always come across as the coolest activity for tweens. But not only is it a beneficial hobby to have it is also a fun way to spend time. Books are so diverse and can tell stories as well as teach your student new things. To help your child get into the spirit of reading, here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Read with your child. Make reading a bonding experience for you and your child by setting aside time each day to read together. They may feel like they are too old for bedtime stories but you can still have them pick out age appropriate books they’re interested in and switch roles with you by taking over the reading. 
  • Try out audiobooks. Incorporating audiobooks into your tweens reading routine may be the way to go. Have them follow along in the book while they listen or put an audiobook on in the car. 
  • Read everything and everywhere. Reading doesn’t have to be limited to books. You can have your child read signs on the road, labels in the grocery store, or even subtitles of a movie. 
  • Create access to reading. Make reading materials available to your child in the home. Get them their own library cards and make weekly visits to the library so they can stock up on books. Take them to the bookstore every so often so they can collect some of their favorite stories on the shelf. You could even get them a magazine subscription that arrives at their door each month. 
  • Combine reading with writing. Incorporate journaling and reflection into your child’s life. Reading and writing skills go hand-in-hand. Those that practice one skill also end up becoming better in the other. 
  • Praise your student. Don’t pass on opportunities to praise your tween when you do see them reading. This helps reinforce their reading habits and lets them see that is a fun activity associated with positive memories. 

Libraries are experts when it comes to helping your tween out with learning and exploring. Parenting tips can come from anywhere. Don’t forget to visit your local library if you’re in need of new ideas or some extra guidance in supporting your child through this new phase of their life.