Squirm was just 5 weeks old when we first visited the library and we’ve visited at least one library a week ever since. However, some people aren’t sure if they should take their babies to the library, or what benefits there are in visiting. Here are my top five reasons you should take your baby to your local library.
1. It normalises the library
I joke that Squirm is always more comfortable if he wakes up in a bookshop or a library. It’s a joke about the places we frequent together, but like a lot of jokes, there’s more than a little bit of truth to it.
Libraries are free to visit and join, but so many times I’ve walked into libraries that are being under used. People aren’t comfortable with the idea of going to a library on a regular basis, or they find the library a bit intimidating. They might buy into the popular culture view of libraries as silent, forbidding places with stern, hushing librarians.
By taking your baby to the library regularly from an early age it makes the library a comfortable place to be. Hopefully that comfort will be with them through their childhood and into their adulthood.
2. Libraries are encouraging babies to join
Every single library I’ve been to on the library tour have been open to babies being there. On our first visit, the librarians were thrilled to sign Squirm up and give him his very own library card. The children’s program in the Moreton Bay Regional libraries start from birth – Squirm’s even won himself two certificates for his borrowing 🙂 There’s also lots of available information about reading to babies.
The best program for babies in libraries is Rhyme Time (or Baby Rhyme Time or Babies, Books and Rhymes). There is a growing concern about children ‘losing’ the old nursery rhymes, and the language benefits that come with learning them and reciting them. Rhyme times are always different depending on which library you go to and who presents it, but you usually find one or two rhymes you haven’t learned before, not to mention relearning the actions you might have forgotten.
3. There’s more in libraries than you might think
What’s in a library? Well, there’s books, of course. But there’s also audio books, CDs, DVDs and in some libraries you can even find toys to borrow. It’s a great way to try before you buy. We borrowed CDs from the library when we first started going. It was through these CDs we discovered a love of ABC Music, and have since bought a number of CDs for ourselves.
4. Free books! That you get to take back!
Books are expensive. And they take up a lot of room. We have tonnes of them here, and we’d love to buy tonnes more, but our storage space and our bank balance just won’t allow it.
By borrowing from the library, we have access to thousands of books for free. They’re all sitting there in their low shelves, waiting for us to borrow them. Then, when we finish reading them, we just take them back and have access to a new pile of books. This also means we’re not spending money on books that aren’t that good, while discovering new books, which we might not have found in the shops.
5. A good reason to get out of the house
It’s so easy to stay at home when your baby is small. You don’t need to pack a bag, you don’t need to wrestle with a carrier or a pram, you don’t need to worry about feeding or changing or what to do when the baby cries. You fall into a trap where you don’t get out, which in my case at least, is a great way to find myself getting blue.
When you go to a library, you’re in a place where there’s usually comfortable chairs for feeding, a change table in the toilets, and people who are actually pretty understanding about babies crying. Making an appointment to get out to borrow books or go to rhyme time, is important for looking after yourself, as well as looking after your baby.
When did you first take your child/ren to the library? Can you think of any other reasons to take babies to the library?