Teaching Children to Use their Public Library
Most public libraries offer a wide variety of children's books and
magazines, with many in Spanish and other languages. In addition to
printed materials, libraries often lend audiotapes and videocassettes of
children's books and movies, and more libraries are making computers
available to the public.
Many libraries also sponsor special programs, including children's story
hours, summer reading programs, and homework help. If a child has special
needs, ask about services the library offers for children with visual or
hearing impairments, those who are gifted, or those who need remedial
Here are some things you can do to introduce children to the library:
- Include children -- even toddlers -- in tours of the library, and encourage
them to come often.
- Help and encourage children to get a library card.
- Encourage children to use the library to find information for their
- Encourage children to ask for help with finding books from reference
- Work with the library staff to teach older children how to find
things in the library on their own.
- Teach children how to take care of themselves in public places.
Stress common-sense guidelines for behavior in the library.
Become a Member
For young children
- Parents of young children can sign up for a library card themselves and
check out books to learn stories, songs, and rhymes to use at home to
stimulate and encourage a young child's development.
- Young children should be encouraged to get a library card as soon as
possible. (Some libraries will issue a card as soon as a child can write
his or her name.)
- Encourage young children to check out books. This encourages
- Take young children to the library for special programs.
Get Into the Act
For elementary school children
- Help children enroll in reading programs at the library. Many children
earn certificates or other awards for reading books through special
library and school programs.
- Help with children's visits to their school library, encourage them to
meet their librarian, and see what the library has to offer. Help out with
any book fairs that the school sponsors. This is a great way to share your
love of reading with children and the community.
- Help children enroll in computer courses the library may offer.
For more advanced students
- Encourage children to use the library for schoolwork. Help them
determine if the library has the resources they need or if they need
to find other information sources.
- Give children encouragement, advice, and critical assistance if they
need it, but resist the temptation to take over an assignment. Let
children be responsible for researching and writing their reports.
- Check out the special services your library offers for helping students
with school assignments, such as homework hotlines and term paper clinics.
Source: U.S. Department of Education.
"This brochure is in the public domain. Feel free to reprint or
For more information, contact the National
Library of Education, 555 New
Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20208, telephone 1-800-424-1616.