By Jill Earl
Did you know that the arrival of September not only brings fall and a new school year, it also brings Library Card Sign-Up Month? The American Library Association (ALA) and libraries nationwide want to spread awareness of the vital role libraries and books have in the development of a child, enhancing learning and ensuring that everyone has access to the information available at these treasured places.
For 2008, NBA great and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is honorary chair for Library Card Sign-Up Month and has his own READ poster. In a quote appearing on the event’s webpage, Jabbar stated, “The library has always been my own personal time machine. I can walk through the doors and land in any place, any time period in history. I didn’t have to wonder what their worlds were like; I could experience it first hand.”
Takes me back to my first library card. I could hardly contain myself after receiving it and dashed off to make my selections. From then on, visits to the neighborhood branch with my mother---and as I grew older---by myself, were the norm, and a lifetime love of books and libraries was born.
I read just about everything I could get my hands on. History, the sciences, novels, geography, poetry, plays, you name it. Sure, you can find practically anything on the Internet, and I appreciate that convenience, but there's something so satisfying about the feel of a book in your hands.
I remember one incident where I was able to pass on the importance of owning a library card and my love of books to children. I spent two summers after high school graduation working at my former elementary school’s summer reading camp as a junior counselor. My respect for teachers increased dramatically as we created lesson plans emphasizing reading and writing for children ranging in age from 6-12 years old, in a community where books and reading weren’t valued. The school’s library was a welcomed resource to us counselors, but it also gave me ‘street cred’ with the kids, as they discovered the variety of books I’d taken out when I was a student there and checked them out themselves.
Perhaps those kids managed to convince their parents to make a trip to their local library to get a library card. Maybe their guardian was inspired to get their GED so they could read to their child at night. Did my love of reading help develop a lifetime love of reading in some of those children? I’d like to think so.
I make the effort to visit my neighborhood library once a week, spending a few hours working on my laptop and browsing the stacks. I’ll fit in a trip to a bookstore a couple of times a month, too. Both are such a part of me that when I don’t do them, it feels like something’s missing in my life.
So, what can you do to help celebrate with your child and get the word out about Library Card Sign-Up Month? Some resources are included below.
I Love Libraries.org
1) Make your own READ mini-poster.
2) Check out the recommended book lists from the Association for Library Service to Children.
3) Check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s website and blog for his interview with I Love Libraries.
About.com: Family Crafts site
Takes you to Sherri Osborn’s page with ideas to help celebrate, such as making your own books and bookmarks, with more links to other book-related activities.
Maybe you can pair the above activities with a related September observance, Read A New Book Month.
The library card. Can’t think of a better way to open children’s imaginations and introduce them to the world.