Jaquelyn Muller is author of children’s books I Love You 5 Lollipops and Elizabeth Rose on Parade and a child literacy advocate. Just in time for Book Week, she shares her ideas for keeping keeping little ones glued to the page instead of the screen.
Developing the next generation of book lovers and storytellers can start when children are very young. These are some tips for engaging children in making choices for themselves using your local bookstore and library.
The best way to shop for books with kids
1. Regularly take children into bookstores. You and your child may be surprised by what is available, as bookshops offer a very different experience to school libraries. What your child really wants to read may surprise and delight you as well.
2. Start by introducing your child by name to the bookseller (remember to ask for the bookseller’s name as well!). Bookshops should be friendly places, and encouraging your child to develop a rapport with an adult who loves books will help them to gain confidence and both parties will benefit from the exchange of ideas.
3. Make sure your child tells the bookseller which books/authors they have read and enjoyed (it may be quite different to what you, as a parent, think). Most booksellers like to hear feedback, and it gives a wonderful guide to help them choose something similar or, perhaps, steer them in a new direction – to expand their reading world.
4. Encourage your child to be honest with the bookseller. If they don’t like a suggestion tell them they won’t be offended, in fact, they may just agree! Choosing the book that feels right for them can take some pressure off you as a parent as well – no more wasted purchases!
5. Letting your child choose a book for themselves introduces the idea of reading for pure enjoyment rather than the chore it can sometimes seem. Booksellers love to meet and greet young readers, and as booksellers they have watched many of them grow into avid adult readers.
6. Join up to the bookshop loyalty program where most stores keep in contact with you and will let you know about exciting new books for kids and adults alike.
Listen to Jaquelyn's interview with Kinderling Conversation:
Borrowing books through the library
Partnering with your local library is also a cost effective way to engage your kids with books especially when they are trying books out. There is nothing worse than buying a book to discover that part way through it has been ditched.
In the same way bookstores can provide knowledge and support, establishing your children with a relationship with the local library can also give you both helpful resources.
Local libraries can offer programs for parents and babies as young as 4 months old.
Modern libraries offer more than you probably think:
- school holiday programs (particularly great in the cooler months)
- bright open spaces that encourage story sharing and discussions
- digital literacy programs for children and adults
- story time for preschoolers
- VCE support for secondary students with study areas and seminars on effective study and exam preparation
- online resources for the days when getting out of the house is a challenge
- email newsletters to keep you informed with upcoming events and programs
Just like shopping, kids love to be involved in picking out books, going through the borrowing process (this often involves a scanning a card, using an interface and sending books back down a returns shoot). Libraries also let you borrow piles of books at a time, so the kids can really go wild and you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank.
For more on Book Week, head to the official website.
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