Local lifestyle columnists

Create personal libraries for the children in your life

By From page B12 | April 19, 2014

Do you remember buying your first book with gift money or a weekly allowance? How did it make you feel?

I remember buying a “Pippi Longstocking” book and a book in the “Mrs. Pepperpot” series. Mrs. Pepperpot could shrink herself down to the size of a pepperpot. I liked Pippi because she was a spunky girl who had lively adventures.

While my parents and relatives bought books for me, and I borrowed books from the library, I enjoyed having my own books and being able to make choices about what I wanted to read when I was in the third and fourth grade. It was also exciting to browse in a bookstore and make grown-up-like decisions to purchase a book.

Today, I see children enjoy making choices at the library and having the opportunity to borrow materials on the self-charge machines.

Over the years, many studies about academic achievement consistently point to parents being actively engaged in their children’s reading.

Having books at home, modeling reading a book, magazine or newspaper, discussing the news and the day, and encouraging imaginative play all help a child grow – emotionally, socially and cognitively. You can also grow closer to your child through talking about things that interest them. They will feel respected by you for valuing their conversation with a grown-up. Siblings can also join and create an ongoing conversation as a family.

Taking time out from computer use and television watching, and talking about books, the day’s activities or a newspaper, can bring families closer together. Make going to the library an enjoyable routine, create small personal libraries and be involved with your children’s and teen’s lives.

There are opportunities here in Solano County to give children an opportunity to build a personal library collection. The Friends of the Fairfield-Suisun Libraries run a used bookstore in the Fairfield Civic Center Library branch. Children can find books for a modest cost. On Thursdays, children accompanied by a parent or caregiver can choose one free book. Suisun City and Cordelia also have used books on a bookshelf area that our Friends run as satellite locations.

Create a dedicated shelf, bookcase or box for library materials and a separate one for a personal library. Stock a few books and then let your child choose a few from a used bookstore or garage sales. Encourage your child to personalize the space. As a family activity, you could create inexpensive bookmarks made from fabric pasted on cereal box cardboard or colored paper with stickers applied. Consider giving your child a comic book or magazine subscription as a gift, or ask their grandparent to give the gift subscription.

Of course, that library could also be an electronic and temporary one for older children. Our Overdrive subscription from our website, Solanolibrary.com, offers electronic books to be borrowed for electronic book readers. We have a large collection for children and teens. The Overdrive Digital Bookmobile will  visit the Fairfield Civic Center Library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 10.

When talking about literacy and reading, librarians and educators often talk about preschoolers and children in the early elementary school years. Children learn to express themselves in healthful ways. Early in their development, children grasp abstract concepts, apply logic in various scenarios, recognize cause and effect, and act accordingly. Educators are constantly emphasizing the importance of learning vocabulary in the early years as a kind of superfood for all learning and overall emotional growth of a child. Your older child also needs the ongoing encouragement of reading throughout the year in order to sustain  academic progress and develop more advanced sets of thinking skills such as these.

We are celebrating National Library Week in April as well as our ongoing celebration of 100 years of library service in Solano County in 2014. What a good time to make a personal library for yourself, your child or someone whom you are providing a service.

If you are serving Meals on Wheels, serving as a foster parent, making visits to a nursing home or working with a particular population as a volunteer, consider a book as a gift and helping to create a small, personal library for an organization, church or person you assist.

Children and young adults can earn a free book during our annual summer reading program. By signing up at the children’s desk, children use a game board to read their way toward earning a free book of their choice.

Young adults can challenge themselves and others to “dares” having to do with reading, creativity and community service. They’ll earn books for their first two “dares” and be entered in a drawing to win an iPad Mini for the others. The fun begins June 9.

By helping your child create a personal library, you are also encouraging a personal space in which they can think their own thoughts and relax and renew themselves each day.

Serena Enger is the supervising librarian at the Fairfield Civic Center Library. She is currently reading “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride.

Serena Enger


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