Library love

Last week, my child had a monumental moment in her life.  Well, I saw it that way.  She didn’t seem to care very much.  We got her first library card.  I know.  I choked up, too.  OK, maybe no one else is choking up over this, but for some reason it made me very excited and proud that she’s old enough to be a card-carrying library patron.

My love affair with the library started when I was as young and younger than Lexiana.  My mom took me to story time with Miss Janet.  I’m sure she had a last name, but all these years later, I still don’t know it.  I just knew that I enjoyed story time.  I don’t remember much about it other than the felt boards like what we had in Sunday School class.  My mom says she started reading to me the day I came home from the hospital because she was reading a book to my older brother and held me at the same time.  It got to the point where by the time I was in fifth or sixth grade, my mom and I actually had to switch to another library because we had pretty much read all the books in our chosen sections at the branch where we were going.  Trips to the library were as regular as trips to the grocery store.

When my kiddo moved into her own bedroom around 2 months old, we started reading a book to her before bedtime. Now we read before nap, before bed at night and off and on throughout the day.

I’ve been instilling this in my kiddo.  She has always had a natural affinity for books, which makes me very proud.  Before she could talk, she’d love to hold books and look through them.  We have one adorable video of her before she could even walk pretending to read a book out loud in her own language.  These days, she has some of her books memorized and recites parts as she flips through pages, she quotes books here and there in conversation (love this!) and she looks at pictures in not-as-familiar books and makes up stories for them.

I started taking her to story time at the library just past her first birthday.  I wrote two blog posts about those early experiences and said no more — until now.  It was a rocky start.  She didn’t sit still for the entire story time at first.  She was fascinated by the other children and adults.  But, she loved it.  The story time we were going to was in a small room packed with lots of children and parents.  It was a bit hectic and very overwhelming.  Well, maybe it was just overwhelming to me.  Lexiana didn’t mind quite as much, but I hated not being able to move around at all while sitting on the floor because my foot would always be asleep by the time we had to stand up to leave.  And it was just so many people.  We never made friends with any other kids or moms.

I decided to do something about it last spring.  We tried another story time at the library across town.  It was a world of difference and worth driving 15 minutes instead of two minutes.  There were only a hand full of kids, all of them were well behaved, the parents were friendly and the room was super spacious.  And there was a craft involved.  It took us a few weeks to hit our stride and figure everything out (like that all the moms leave their bags and coats on the chairs at the craft table when they enter), but it worked.  And it’s worked well.

The most surprising thing to me for a long time was that my child refused to talk. When she was at home or with people who she knew pretty well, she never stopped talking.  She still doesn’t stop talking.  Ever.  Well, unless she’s completely asleep.  We joke that her mouth is the last thing to fall asleep and the first thing to wake up.  It’s very true.  But, at story time, she wouldn’t say her name.  When she was asked questions, she wouldn’t answer.  When we all stood up to dance along to the various songs, she seldom participated.  For a very good while, I thought she might have inherited my shyness.

The kiddo a couple of months ago reading to herself in her room.

However, after these last couple of months, I’m not so sure.  She has completely warmed up to story time.  In fact, story time last week brought in two new little guys who are about six or eight months behind Lexiana. All of a sudden, she has become the “big kid” who does all the story time stuff.  And I’m the mom who talks with the librarian, Miss Cinda (just like with Miss Janet, I don’t know her last name either), about what we’ve done recently.  The kiddo and I have adjusted well.  We enjoy story time.  She loves the craft.  In fact, she’s always anxious to hang put it on display at home and show it to my husband when he gets home from work.  She loves the stories.  Miss Cinda reads to the kids then we parents read to them, too.  She loves the songs.  On a recent trip to Target she wandered around shopping with me while belting out a song from the library.

And she’s making friends.  It’s happening in small ways.  One of the other regulars is a little girl who is about eight months older than Lexiana.  They played together after story time a couple of weeks ago.  I had a nice chat with the other mom.

The kiddo likes the library.  She likes story time.  I’d been hesitant to let her check out library books because she sort of gets attached to books and often gets in her head specific books that she wants to read and we have to track down on her bookcase.  I was afraid she wouldn’t let the books go back.  So we talked about it.  Then we got her library card and brought home three books with us.  One she picked out about a cow, one I picked out about a frog named Wilma and the third is a collection of Thomas the Train stories we both agreed on.  She’s growing up, my little one.  This will be her second summer participating in the summer reading program.  Getting in a half hour of reading each day hasn’t been a problem for us.

My hope is that this first library card and her exposure to the library at story time will start a lifelong love for her of books and the library.  My mom and I have had great times sharing the bond of our love of reading together.  We don’t usually prefer the same kind of books, but we still talk about them. We still enjoy them.  I hope to continue that tradition on with Lexiana.  While I’m all for new technology, there’s nothing like the printed word and the smell of books in a library.

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