By Debra Karplus
Libraries have changed greatly over the past few decades. No longer are they sterile places that only have books to borrow and where one must sit in silence. When was the last time you heard a librarian say ‘shhhhh’ to a patron?
Many of today’s libraries are active, busy places that have become gathering places for families to enjoy a bottle of fruit juice with a blueberry muffin, attend an interesting program, or check out a wide variety of media. What better place to spend time with your grandchildren!
Borrow instead of buy
How many books do you purchase that you only read once, or maybe you do not read then at all? The library is a great way for grandparents to explore a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction topics with grandchildren of all ages. Many libraries will special order a book that you request, or obtain it through the library system that they are part of with neighboring libraries.
And don’t forget to take notice of the magazine section. You’ll be surprised to discover the numerous special interest magazines. They are written and published exclusively for children.
Taking grandchildren to a movie at your nearby theater can become expensive. But many public libraries have free DVDs of popular kid’smovies. Next time you’re at the library, peruse the media section. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how extensive the collection is.
Utilize the free computer and databases at the library.
Most libraries have a section or room filled with computers for the public to use. Many libraries are even wired for free wifi. What a great place for your children to do their homework! Your grandchildren will find the databases and reference materials to be extremely helpful.
Entertain your grandchildren in the library’s kid section.
The weather outside is terrible and your grandkids are becoming restless staying at home. Why not head to the library. Children’s departments have become lively places for children to play and interact. Besides books for all aged children including even the very little ones, you are likely to find interactive and educational toys, puzzles and games, and so much more. And check the library’s calendar of events. Many libraries have daytime or bedtime story hours and a variety of other age-appropriate activities.
Encourage your grandchildren to select books. Spend the afternoon at the library and get cozy in their comfortable chairs. Your grandchildren will enjoy reading stories to you.
Attend free family-oriented library programs.
On a given evening or weekend afternoon, interesting, informative and fun programs are scheduled at the library. A published author could be speaking about her upcoming children’s novel. A well-travelled local teacher might speak about a recent trip to China. Or possibly a chamber group is entertaining library patrons with some selections from Beethoven pieces. Why spend money at symphony hall when you can be enjoying these and many other free library events with your grandchildren!
Spend a little money at the library for big savings.
Many libraries frequently discard older books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs. They do this by having sales, with bargain-basement prices. Some even sell bag loads of books or other materials. Inquire if your library will be having a sale; or volunteer your time with your grandchildren to help organize one.
You’re probably already paying indirectly for goods and services of your local library through your taxes. Plan a library visit with your grandchildren next time you have a block of time to spend together. Give yourselves a tour of all that is to be offered. The library can easily become a regular favorite free family spot visited again and again. Check it out.
Author biography: Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines, baby boomer, and grandmother of two and a regular at her public library. She lives in a Midwestern college town. She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.