As a kid, our home was walking distance to the public library. This was way back when parents let their kids walk across an empty field, past a cemetery, and across a 4-lane street with their little brother in tow. Each week, we would carry Ramona & Beezus, Henry and that dog, and Judy Blume back and forth with us. There were afternoon programs and activities, my brother and I would sign ourselves up and then show up to enjoy them. Sometimes our friends would come along. We found that rows and rows of library books were a great place for indoor hide & seek when it was too cold outside - but you had to play real quietly. When I pass by now, I point it out to my kids, "there's my library." It was a place of happy memories, as corny as that may sound.
When I take my kids to our neighborhood library, they each make sure they have their own library card to check out their own books. All five of us, five stacks of books, five different cards. (Only one of us, however, pays the late fines. I hope one day I will be commemorated at least on a bookshelf or one of those teeny chairs in the children's section for my donations of 50-cents at a time over the years.)
Getting their own card was my kids literacy right-of-passage. Before they could get their own card, they had to be able to write their name and read a book by themselves. "Read" of course doesn't mean get through War & Peace, but at least a few pages of Cat in the Hat. They each were so excited to get their cards. They knew the "requirements" and would practice writing their name, so it would be just perfect on their card.
There's of course, no requirement for everyone in the house to have their own library card. But it gives the kids a sense of pride, I think, to have their own. It's their little piece of independence. Their first piece of identification that they can put in their pocket. Having their own card is like having their own ticket to wherever they want to go.
We try to get there every few weeks or so, in between all the other after-school activities. In addition to picking up books, we've picked up audiobooks for roadtrips and language tapes to practice our Korean. When they were little, we used to go for puppet shows and art activities. We drop off books for the used book sales and they picked up some good (cheap) reads there, too. Since our library is not easily walkable from our home, the kids rely on me to take them. But now the library also has e-books available so they can download them to the Nook or my iPad if they don't want to wait (or we're snowbound). I'm glad that my kids enjoy going to the library as much as I did as a kid.
Now, if only they served coffee...
Join the conversation on Facebook: Just Piddlin' with Frances