November 17, 2006

TtBTF, #6

Things to Be Thankful For, #6: The Public Library

I'm sure we would find ways to make our lives complete without it, but there is certainly a richness to our daily existence that owes everything to our local public library. Let me count the ways...

~Whenever I want to find out more about something: Montessori, gardening, allergies, 9/11, quilting with denim...anything!, I have two stops: Google and the library. Between the two of them, I usually end up feeling fairly well-educated on whatever it was I wanted to know about.

~It's massively convenient, and keeps me in touch with my mother. Her hobby is going to the library, and she has copies of our cards (mine and the girls; Matt's never gotten around to paying the buck to have another copy of his card). So I put things "on hold" here at home, and when she goes to the library, she picks up our stuff for us. As a payoff, I put things on hold for her, including things I know she likes to read about, and random things that she probably wouldn't have thought of (and, when she commits one of her obnoxious social gaffes, advice and training books, which she takes with good humor. For instance, one day she accidentally let fly with a four-letter word while playing with the girls--and felt quite guilty about it--and the next week, there were about four books with titles like "How to Stop Swearing" waiting for her.)

~The girls enjoy story time, it socializes them by being around lots of little kids, and they swap germs (not required, if you ask me, but supposedly it's good to have a certain amount of exposure to bugs, since it gets your immune system up and running.) Also, Laura has finally discovered the Victorian doll house they keep in the children's area (completely decorated, and usually changed around for the seasons). Since seeing that doll house is one of my own earliest (positive) memories, it's nice to be able to share it with her. We have to check it each time we go to story time now.

~It has totally fueled my preschool efforts. I have music, pictures, flannel-board stories, activity ideas...and it all came from there. Free. I did buy one book (having looked at the library's copy first), mostly because I did not want to copy its 500+ pages, having realized that I wanted most of what it had.

~My girls are both good little pre-readers. We couldn't have done it without the library's resources. Even Emily will toddle over to our basket full of books (a laundry basket-sized basket; stocked some with our own books, and an ever-changing collection from the library. We can check out 50 items at a time on each card....), pluck out a book, sit herself down, and flip interestedly through the pages. I'm trying hard to make sure they grow up in a culture of literary richness, with the idea that there are always more cool books out there to read and enjoy. I figure I shouldn't stop reading to them or anything, but that at this point the seeds of reading are obviously planted and growing well: books are their favorite toys. YESSSS! (Ginger does a little victory dance.) It's things like this that make English teachers curl their toes with pleasure.

~It's helped Matt not miss television. When we first gave up the tube, he wasn't much of a book person, suffered from being a slow reader, and really didn't think he'd ever change. But he got bored and, since I had my nose in a book, he sadly picked one off my (burgeoning) shelves and tried it. And liked it. And wanted more. He's gradually gotten a lot faster at reading, which improves the experience for him, and now I check out books--after consulting with him--for him on my card, using the handy "Mah's Delivery Service" (he's currently about two thirds of the way through the complete works of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child).

~I can slake my lust for reading new and interesting things, not to mention keep up with my favorite authors without breaking the bank. Usually, the library will post books that it hasn't even got its hot little hands on yet, allowing one to place "holds" before items are actually published. With a sharp eye, it's possible to use this system to get books before most people are through the first chapter (for instance, a recent score was the last Lemony Snicket book. Yes, I beat out some innocent child and was the first to read one of the library's brand-spanking-new copies of it. But I did send it back before its due date....)

Thank you, library!


Anonymous said...

LOL! Wait 'till the kids start bringing those Scholastic book orders home...those 99 cent deals are hard to pass up, even if the books are the most cheaply made ever. Noah especially is a book lover, preferring to read alone (whereas Wrenna prefers to read together). I have had to put my foot down and allow each child ONE choice from the monthly orders, just so that I can order my usual 5 or so. One cannot have enough Robert Munsch books, and one day I will have them all. *muuwaahahahaaa*

I have only met your mom once, and I thought she was charming. Maybe she and my heathen kids should get together and practice their vulgar know, "your butt's on fire!" and "NO, YOUR butt's on fire!" Heh.


Ginger Ogle said...

Yeah, that'd probably work. Particularly since my mother found a copy of "Good Families Don't" (speaking of Robert Munsch) and decided we needed to borrow it for a while. We just change the main word in it to "toot" and "Canadians" to "Americans" in one key passage, and it has become a favorite (of course.)