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The Power of a Library Card
By: Librarian Marie Unanue
None would argue that reading is essential to a child’s success. Visiting your public library and arming your child with a library card will help prepare and support your child both in school and in life.
Taking your children to the library allows them to see reading is important to you as parents and invites them to be a part of a community of readers. Surrounding your children with readers lets them see and develop good reading habits. Libraries are full of book-lovers. Exposing your children to a large reading community will help guide them on the path to becoming a lifelong reader rather than a school time reader.
Opening New Worlds
Libraries have a wide range of books that open new worlds and spark the imagination. The diversity of a public library collection encourages students to experience new authors, venture into unfamiliar genres and read everything they can find on a topic of keen interest. Regular visits to the library and access to books makes you a better reader. In a library students can find books to read aloud as a family as well as choose a “just right” book to read alone or a book to read to a younger sibling. Selecting your own books and presenting your own library card at the circulation desk can be a powerful motivator. In the words of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of a Library.”
The Most Common Cultural Activity
Upper School students at Rossman are looking forward to an author visit with Newbery Medalist Linda Sue Park this month. In preparing ourselves for her visit, we immersed ourselves in learning about Linda Sue Park. The daughter of Korean immigrants, the author shares the experience of her parents as they arrived in the United States and made their first visit to a public library. Her dad, she states, was “wowed.” He was amazed that you can enter a library, walk out with an armful of books that you don’t pay for, and simply have a librarian ask you to bring them back when you’re done. How does that even work? It’s a great question, but clearly the public library system is alive and thriving. In fact, a recent Gallup poll (December 2019) showed “visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.” In 2019 more Americans visited the library than went to the movies or visited a museum.
Building a Strong Community
In addition to books, libraries today provide their readers with access to e-books, audiobooks, newspapers, magazines, Internet use, DVDs, and more. Public libraries also offer a wide-range of programming for young people and adults, ranging from author events, story times, book clubs, homework help, craft sessions, game nights, cooking classes, and more. All of this contributes to libraries building a strong community. Connecting your children to the library now teaches them that these resources are available to them. Most importantly, it also introduces them to librarians who can act as both book recommenders and resource managers, offering a suggestion on a good read one day and guidance on using a database on another day.
Adapting and Growing
According to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey almost two-thirds of adult Americans say that closing their local library would have a major negative impact on their community. The survey found that over 90% of adults view public libraries as “welcoming and friendly places.” Public libraries are still viewed as critical in promoting literacy, a love of reading, and a positive quality of life within a community. Many people, however, are unaware of all the services that the library offers within a community. Public libraries have adapted and grown with our society, now offering so much more than a commitment to free access to books for all.
A Special Space
I remember when I was finally able to get my own library card and how excited and nervous I was to write my own name on the registration card. Being in possession of my own library card was a proud moment! Regular family trips to the library encouraged my love of books and reading. I soon discovered that the library was like an old friend that greeted me when I walked through the doors. I was as comfortable there reading alone or quietly working on a school project as I was joining friends in sharing good books or sitting at a long table working together on homework. To this day, I feel immediately at home and relaxed in any library I enter.
To quote J.K. Rowling, the best-selling author of the Harry Potter series, “When in doubt go to the library.” I promise you you won’t regret it.
Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills. Request a free Rossman School brochure here.