Getting Kids Connected To The Library

Madonna gave the "King of Pop" a royal tribute at her London concert.
Now that school is out, many parents want their children to keep up their reading and language skills but still have fun. A good way to make that connection is through your local library. For our continuing series, Kids Connection, Mitch Freedman of the American Library Association visits The Early Show to discuss this.

The American Library Association (ALA) is the voice of America's libraries. It links libraries together to share information. It also has a program called KidsConnect, which is an Internet-based question-answering, help and referral service for K-12 students. Its goal is to help students access and use the information available on the Internet effectively and efficiently. And the different library systems create their own reading and Internet programs.

For example, the Washington, D.C. Public Library calls their reading program Summer Quest and the theme this year is Race to Read. Children who participate will be entertained and educated by a host of artists who excel at creating interest in reading through their performances. The programs and activities run from June through August; last year, there were more than 5,000 participants. Children who participate are given stickers, books, coupons, and more to encourage reading. They are rewarded with certificates of accomplishment after reading at least 10 books.

Children who read as few as six books during non-school months gained or maintained reading skills achieved during the preceding school year.

In Texas, The Texas Reading Club is set up in cities across the state and is designed to encourage youth to read for pleasure and to promote library use. A statewide theme is selected each year, emphasizing the ways in which reading expands young minds and encourages children to use their imaginations. It also reminds young people that reading can be great fun. A handbook is created each year to aid in planning and programming, and the handbook, along with posters, reading logs, bookmarks, and certificates are offered by the Texas State Library to encourage participation and support of this program.

Things for parents to consider when choosing a summer reading program:

  • Look for thematic programs that match your child's special interests and hobbies.
  • Look for programs that allow children the freedom to choose which books they read and allow them to read at their own pace.
  • Library programs, as opposed to reading instruction or skills programs, are more diverse. They may feature new and developing technologies that may help participants develop visual literacy and language skills, as well as offering reading practice. Look for variety and fun.

The following are some tips for parents to encourage their children's reading:
  • Start sharing books when your child is born, and don't forget to keep reading with children into their teen years.
  • Make a time and a place for reading in your home and encourage talking about reading in your family.
  • Take advantage of "waiting" time to share books on trips, at the doctor's office, in line at the grocery story.
  • Set a good example - read on your own.
  • Allow your child to select books to read and be aware of your child's reading interests.
  • Give books as presents.
  • Get to know the children's librarian at your local public library.
  • Register your child for a library card. Get the one free card that brings you a world of opportunity - no matter what your age.
  • When preparing for family road trips, stock up on audio books from your library. Let your children choose some stories to listen to in the car.
  • Have family members share favorite ghost stories and/or adventure stories around the campfire at picnics and on camping trips.