Make some noise – let’s celebrate libraries!
Published on: 02 October 2023
Our Writer-in-Residence Michelle Robinson shares why libraries are brilliant places for families.
It’s Libraries Week, when we’re all encouraged to cheer for public libraries, the amazing work they do in our communities, and all that they offer us, for FREE.
Free is always welcome, and if the free stuff in question is basically an endless bounty of fun and a springboard to literacy … count me in.
When I was younger, my mum would leave me at the library while she did the grocery shopping. It wasn’t as neglectful as it sounds: it was a tiny library and the librarian was a family friend. She’d keep a close eye on me while I flopped into a bean bag to read. I was a very obedient and careful child; I could absolutely be trusted not to run away, misbehave or be led astray.
I loved the library. As well as plenty of Judy Blume, Roald Dahl and Dick King Smith, I flicked through books on antiques, treasure hunting and local history. My glorious bubble would burst when Mum came to gather me up and choose a book or two for herself, catching up with her friend into the bargain.
For a hundred reasons, I would urge you to stay with your children at the library, but not just for safety’s sake. Libraries are awesome places to spend time together.
I’m a mum myself now and I’ve moved around a lot, living in villages, towns and cities. The size of my local library has changed, but the joy, discovery and companionship they offer has stayed the same. In fact, it’s got better, with the addition of free, family-focused schemes like Rhymetime and BookTrust’s Storytime sessions.
If your local library offers these free drop-in sessions, give one a try. It’s so much fun and works wonders in developing children’s language skills. Best of all, it’s completely free!
When I first became a mum, I didn’t have many friends in the same situation. I tried joining a parenting group lots of colleagues had recommended. Membership cost an arm and a leg, but they assured me it was worth it. I went to one meeting, left in a hurry and never returned. Let’s just say it wasn't my cup of tea. I felt even more isolated – until I took my son to Rhymetime at our local library.
There’s just something magical about the playful rhythm and rhyme of story and song. My son had the best time crawling on the colourful carpet, grabbing books, shaking maracas, meeting other tots and making a brilliant racket, while the heroic librarian read and sang. I had fun, too. I picked up tips on entertaining and delighting my boy, and I didn’t feel so alone. Clearly there were plenty of other parents who valued the benefits of fun and free.
This Libraries Week, and all year round, celebrate our libraries noisily by bringing your children along and getting stuck in. Sing! Hum! Make a happy hullaballoo! You won’t find anyone hushing you in your local library – and you won’t find me hushing up about how much I love them.
Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 17 titles.