Libraries are a fun and practical place that your child will hopefully continue to visit throughout their entire life. But how do you help them to form the "library habit" early on? Here are 5 strategies you can start using today -- even if they're not reading on their own yet!
1. Let them choose what they want to borrow
Giving children the opportunity to choose their own books lets them see just how many books are available, and also helps to keep their interest in what they're reading. Kids are more likely to be interested in something they've chosen themselves!
2. Let them see you using the library
It's not easy to have a long leisurely browsing session with a preschooler in tow, but bringing them with you to pick out a book by your favorite author, or to see what's new in the cooking section will show them that the library is for people of every age and interest.
3. Talk to them about the library
Tell your child a day or two in advance when you're planning a library visit, and talk about what that means. This will give you a chance to go back over how the library works (you get to borrow books for a few weeks, and then they go back for someone else to borrow), to read a favorite library book one more time before it's returned, and to anticipate what you'll borrow next.
4. Make the library social
Many library activities are targeted to a particular age group, which makes them a great place to meet or to invite a playmate. Suggest to one of the parents at your child's preschool that you meet up with your children at a weekend storytime at your local branch, or talk to some of the other parents already at the storytime about attending the same session regularly so that your kids can be "library friends". This will show them that the library is a community place, where you meet people.
5. Practice interactive reading
To help your child engage with books, make the experience of reading together interactive. Ask them questions about the illustrations ("How many birds are in the sky? What color are they?") and use the plots and story elements to spark conversation ("They're cooking dinner. What did we have for dinner?"). This will make reading into more than sounding out shapes on a page!
Raising a reader is definitely a process, but these 5 tips will help your preschooler see the library as a fun place that they'll be excited to visit for years to come. Let us know how these strategies work out for you and share any tips of your own in the comments -- we'd love to hear from you!