via what to expect: Check this out: A children’s library is the perfect place for your pipsqueak to begin her love affair with books. But even if your visit involves swinging by the grown-up section, going to the library with a toddler can have a happy ending (and beginning and middle too).
Your toddler doesn’t need to know how to read to enjoy going to the library, especially if it’s a children’s library, which is designed with her growing mind in mind. You may even get a kick out of a trip to the library with your tot in tow. For one thing, it’s impossible to sit down among the colorful picture books and not snuggle. And a fun day out with the kids could include toddler storytime, where a library staffer reads a great book for toddlers to a group of little guys and gals (that may buy you a few precious moments of peace). Since challenges may arise (toddlers are noisy newbies to quiet libraries), try these tips to fully enjoy going to the library.
- Give your toddler a library preview. She’s seen books in her bedroom and maybe in bookcases around your house or even at the bookstore, but odds are she won’t have seen as many high shelves filled with books, books, and more books all in one space until she goes to the library. Give her the heads-up so she’s not (as) overwhelmed upon arrival. Also tell her who she’ll encounter (“The librarian is the nice person who helps us find books”) and what you’re going to do (“We’ll sit on the red carpet and read together”). When you get there, point out all the things you discussed at home (“That’s where they keep the Dr. Seuss books.” “We can find stories about puppies by using the computer”).
- Practice using library voices. Before going to the library, talk about how it’s a special place with special rules. And one of the most important rules is keeping your voices down. Take turns whispering to each other before you go to the library, and give your itty-bitty bookworm a rule reminder once you arrive.
- Talk about how to treat library books. You may not mind if your eager reader rips out pages from her books at home, but the librarians will if she goes to town on the children’s library books. Remind your child to be gentle with the pages, not to eat or drink near them, or draw on them.
- Head to the hands-on section. Most children’s libraries have a special corner for their youngest patrons, complete with puzzles, quiet games, and chunky board books. Allow your darling to dig in — pick out a few games and books to enjoy right there and some books to borrow and take home. Point out old favorites (“Look, there’s Curious George!”) and new selections that might interest her (“Here’s a book about a ballerina — shall we look at it?”).
- Stop by the grown-up section. Feel free to do a quick dash to the adults’ area — just don’t expect to spend more than a few minutes perusing before your toddler’s patience runs out. To extend your time and up the opportunities for toddler learning, whisper with your little one about the differences between the grown-up and children’s sections (“These bookshelves are taller.” “These books have more pages — and no pictures!”). This also might be a good time to park her with a special quiet toy (or book!) for a few minutes while you read a few dust jackets.
- Sign up for toddler storytime. Cap off (or start off) a visit to a children’s library with storytime. Kids adore hearing stories read aloud, and storytime can serve as an introduction to the rules of preschool (sit still, be a good listener). One other not-so-obvious benefit: You may meet some fellow toddler moms to befriend.
- Get your cutie a library card. If she’s old enough to go to the library, she’s probably old enough for her very first library card. Getting one is a proud moment, sure to give your child a big-kid sense of ownership — and an extra incentive to make a return visit to the library.