By Devin Morrissey
Contrary to popular belief, libraries are certainly not dying. Today, people consume content more than ever before. Libraries, which are filled to the brim with all types of content, are a huge part of that. Librarians, as well as archivists and curators, are still in demand, and many libraries even have their hands in the publishing process.
Creating a home library is a wonderful way to encourage exploration and inspire a true love of learning and reading. Your library will, of course, have books, but it can also include activity stations and online resources, as well as audio and video resources, online access, e-book databases and more. You can even link to your local library with their app or an app like Libby.
Exposing children to libraries early in life gives them many of the learning tools they’ll take with them as they grow. They’ll develop a positive association with libraries and discover how to guide their own learning. Libraries present a unique challenge: search for information in order to solve a problem, which may be how to do something new or to fill in gaps in knowledge.
Develop Spatial Awareness
By designing your home library with purpose – thinking through how it’s laid out and where stations are in relation to one another – you can help young children develop spatial awareness. This means they’ll become aware of how they relate to the space they’re in, and also how other objects relate to space. If you change the layout of the home library every now and then, children will gain more spatial awareness as they understand the relation of objects as they change position. You can also ask your child how they would like the library arranged – giving them the freedom to design their own space can show them firsthand what works well and what doesn’t, developing their spatial awareness even more.
Include Music in Education
Music and music training have a number of benefits: regulating behavior and improving social skills, processing information faster, and improving verbal intelligence, for starters. By including music education in your home library, you’ll provide STEAM-based project learning, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Add music to your home library by including audio and digital resources, sheet music, and maybe even a section for playing musical instruments or composing music online. Music education gives teens the opportunity to become more technologically aware by connecting them to digital tools for creating and producing audio.
If you notice that there’s a lot of passive learning going on – for example, watching YouTube tutorial videos about how to play an instrument – challenge your teen to create their own tutorial video for beginners. This is a way to turn passive learning into active learning.
Engage with Offbeat Topics
Some teens don’t love to read — at least when it comes to the traditional reading lists of high school English classes. When you create your own library at home, you can choose what to fill it with. Sci-fi books and other fun topics still require deep reading, the kind you do when going from chapter to chapter instead of skimming headlines in a newspaper. This improves brain power, helps the brain to think critically and improves the reader’s ability to make connections and build new pathways.
Reading has a number of benefits – it boosts pleasure in daily life, improves literacy skills and even makes it easier to get a job. These benefits kick in after only half an hour of reading a day, too! If it takes an offbeat topic like science fiction to reap those benefits, create a part of your library dedicated to that topic. Many benefits of reading come from the act of reading itself, not necessarily the subject matter.
Enhance Real World Experiences
Libraries shouldn’t always be a one-stop-shop for learning, but instead a tool that helps enhance real-world learning. For example, if you and your kids love to hike, take note of what you see while on the trail. Maybe there are plants or leaves you don’t recognize, bugs or wildlife you want to learn more about, or an interesting change in the weather that you don’t understand. Your home library can help you put these experiences in context, which will make you better prepared the next time you lace up your boots.
The library can help uncover new challenges to take on in the real world, too. Let’s say you go on hikes with your kids often, but lately, your teens have been wondering out loud about rock climbing. Your home library has the online resources needed to start researching rock climbing for kids or beginners. The key here is that you’re teaching your kids that everything – from what they experience firsthand to what they wonder about – is an opportunity to learn.
Take on a Personal Challenge
When your teen is struggling with something, help them try to solve the problem. Your home library can provide a lot of resources for overcoming obstacles or making improvements in different ways. By facing a challenge, figuring out how to overcome it on their own, and then being successful, they’ll realize that learning something new has so much power behind it.
When you learn something new, your brain grows – personal challenges are mental challenges as well. The library can also provide a quiet haven to reflect on these changes. Having an area for journaling or writing is a great addition. Reflection is a big part of learning, so giving your kids the space to think about what they experienced or learned will add to their education.
You don’t always have to trick kids and teens into learning by disguising it as an exciting activity or game. Libraries can help you uncover what they’re truly interested in so you can surround them with the information and resources to foster their curiosities. Activities and games can introduce a topic, but once you’ve sparked an interest, you don’t have to employ tricks to keep them interested – they already are! Having a library in your home will only prove to show your kids and teens that interesting information is everywhere, and they can be active participants in their own education.