Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Using The Library To Teach Independence

The library is one of our family's favorite spots. The whole process is exciting to us - from loading up the bags with books to return, to wandering the aisles and picking out whatever grabs our attention, to unloading all of our new finds once we get home.

The second we walk in the door, Isabelle heads downstairs to the kids section while Eric and I stay upstairs with the younger three. Isabelle is on friendly terms with all of the librarians. She has learned to ask for help whenever she needs it. I am so proud that she does this. It has taken me 31 years to get comfortable asking someone for help in similar situations.

I think what has helped Isabelle find this confidence is that she loves reading, she loves the library, and Eric has set a wonderful example for her. She watches him talk with all of the librarians and ask for recommendations. Most of them know him by name. As a result, they all know Isabelle by name too. One librarian in particular, Miss Kate, is Isabelle's favorite.

Before we left this morning, Isabelle said she wanted to read some more of the Boxcar Children series. Without any prompting from me, she said: "I'll just ask Miss Kate where they are, and which ones are the best. I like talking to her. She always helps me pick out the best books." I love the fact that my daughter considers this woman a "friend."

Sometime last year I helped this independence along. At this point, she had gotten to know the librarians through conversations Eric had with them in her presence. But she hadn't yet sought them out on her own. Before we left for the library, I handed Isabelle a list of books I wanted her to get for school. She was nervous she wouldn't be able to find them all on her own and I reminded she could just ask a librarian for help.

She did have to ask for help and gained a valuable lesson along the way. She learned that it is okay to be a little nervous. She learned that sometimes when you need to do something, "the most effective way to do it, is to do it." (Amelia Earhart) She learned that it feels good to solve a problem on your own without mom and dad's help. And she learned that there are adults out there who are as passionate about children's books as she is.

And she has never looked back.

Alex and Olivia are already learning this lesson at the library, and I'm sure it won't be long before Gracie is also. The library is a well-known atmosphere for them, so it is a great first place to test their independent wings. When Alex says he wants to read books about trains, we tell him to go ask the librarian for help. Same with Olivia. (One caveat: we do make sure we are not needlessly bothering the librarians. Although they have all been genuinely happy to help and glad that we ask, we would never want to take advantage of their jobs. If we can find something on our own, or show the kids how to find it themselves, that is our first option.)

Life lessons at the library...who knew? I love our library!



A Grammatical Disclaimer

I freely admit to consistently using improper grammar in the following areas:
1. I like run-on sentences.
2. I have a tendency to end sentences with a pronoun. (I really do. I can't help it.)
3. I always seem to use passive voice in my sentences. (See?)

I've been trying to break this habit, unsuccessfully, for years, so now I just accept that as my writing style, and since I'm not writing for grades anymore, I embrace it. (Again, see?)

Hence, I invoke Blogger Artistic License for this blog!

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