My kids love books, love being read to and love spending hours (literally!) looking at books. I have no idea if their love is because of something we've done or if that's just how they are, but I am so grateful!
Lulu has just started reading on her own and watching her learn is so fun! I started doing this book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (Amazon affiliate link) with her almost a year ago. We got about 20 lessons in and then we bought the bus and it was impossible to keep up with. I packed it away and pulled it out again a month ago. It's crazy to see how much she's retained since we last did it and also how much more easily she's picking things up than she was last time. We're now about 40 lessons in and she's loving it.
I recommend this book to people all the time because I love it so much. It's incredibly simple, it seriously tells you exactly what to say and when to say it. Each lesson takes 10 minutes and they're very simple. For the first couple weeks, I had a hard time believing it would work. And then she started sounding out simple words and learning sounds! We chose not to the writing portion of it because Lulu found it overwhelming and since she's only 4, I don't feel the need to force her to do any learning she doesn't want to do (for the record, she begged me to teach her to read!).
Since we've moved tiny, we've gotten rid of almost all of our books. We kept a few favorites and ones with sentimental value, but only a small percentage of what we used to have. Of course, that doesn't mean that we don't have a home full of books, we've just gotten better at utilizing the library.
One of our favorite places to spend time during the week is our local libraries. We're lucky enough to have five amazing libraries within 20 minutes of us! It is not uncommon for us to visit 3 or more of them in a week, and on occasion, we've visited a couple in the same day.
If you haven't been to your local library recently, you're missing out! I'll be honest, the books are not my favorite thing about the library. Don't get me wrong, I love the books; as you can tell by the fact that we currently have close to 50 of them checked out... But there are so many other things to do at the library!
We attend two Storytime programs every week, one on Monday and one on Friday. When I was very pregnant with Abram (his due date, actually!), on Lulu's second birthday I waddled into the storytime program at our local library and I was in love! Lulu loved it from the very first time we went: stories, songs, rhymes, felt board stories, musical instruments and a wonderful little community that we get to be a part of! We have gone almost every single week since. I thought about that today, actually, as Abram cuddled up to the librarian as she read: She's been our storytime lady for his entire life! How fun to attend with him in utero, and now to see him actually sit still(ish) for a story or two.
The programs that we attend are perfect for kids ages birth-5, there's a short story/song time and then lots of open time for the kids to play with various toys that are available. I love that we get to meet other kids and parents from the community and it's fun to see the same kids each week, and meet new people too! As a stay-at-home mom, I get lonely and I find that storytime is the perfect time to connect with other parents and enjoy a few minutes of adult conversation!
The kids love picking out books and because it's free to do so, I don't mind to let them choose whatever they want! For a couple weeks, they wanted nothing but cookbooks and cake decorating how-tos. This week it's bird books and field guides. I love that using the library is a super easy way to foster their interests, however quickly they change. Lulu enjoys chatting with the librarians and I'm always impressed by how much they enjoy talking with her, always asking questions or helping her find what she's looking for, they never act like her thoughts or interests are worth less because she's only four.
When we lived in our rental home, I used to be pretty hesitant to check out lots of books. They seemed to get lost all the time and we were forever searching for a lost book or DVD. Since we've moved tiny, it's much harder to lose items (I mean, we still do) and because we have very few of our own books, it's easy to find library books and return them on time. An awesome thing that many people don't know about our local library is that they don't charge late fees for children's books checked out on a child's card. I can't tell you how often I've been grateful for this policy! However, even when we do pay our (unavoidable) lost item fine, I honestly don't mind. The fee is usually pretty minimal and I look at it as paying for our membership to an institution that acts as play group, preschool, museum, social hub and playground for our family.
Recently, I was able to participate in a really awesome parenting class that was offered at the library. A local professional taught the class and childcare was provided. It was such a great class, but also just a good opportunity to connect with other parents and get a break from the kids! The library offers all kinds of classes and seminars!
It is not unusual for us to go to the library and not check out any books. The kids love playing in the children's area and every library we've been to has tons of great toys and games for them to play with. When we lived closer to the library, we used to get the kids ready for bed right after dinner, then walk down to the library to play for an hour before bed. I think we had the children's area to ourselves every time we did that, apparently 8pm isn't a popular library time for most toddlers!
Our local library system has more than just books available for checkout: DVDs, CDs, Audiobooks, computer games, board games, preschool kits, American Girl Dolls (!), Coloring books (complete with colored pencils), and I'm sure many more things I don't know about!
I know not everyone is local, but if you live in Whatcom County - check out this amazing calendar to get an idea of how busy our libraries are, there are events every single day for all ages. Lego club, tea parties, book clubs, writing groups, crafting and knitting meet-ups, there's something for everyone!
If you aren't local, be sure to check out a library near you, I can almost guarantee you'll be impressed by what's available!
I know this sounds like one big advertisement for the library, but I promise it's all genuine. I'm not getting paid a cent by the library and no, they're not paying the lost item fine that's waiting for me (anyone seen a 'Dora and Friends' DVD?). I just seriously love the library (if you couldn't tell!)