Visit Your Local Library!

This introduction to the library describes what's available at the library and suggests some ideas on how to learn more about your local library.

Many communities in the United States have a public library. Libraries are a wonderful resource for everyone because they have books, videos, music, newspapers, computers, and much more for children and adults — and these resources are available to the public for free!

You can take books and other materials out of the library by signing up for a free library card. Usually you will be able to check out materials for a few weeks at a time. When you're done with those books, you return them to the library, and exchange them for more. If you forget to return books and materials on time, you may need to pay a small fine.

Many libraries now offer books for children and adults in both English and Spanish, and have employees who can answer your questions in Spanish. Most libraries also have sections for children and teens. The library is often a special place for children, especially during the long summer, and visiting the library regularly can help them develop an early love of reading.

Here are a few thoughts for getting started:

  • To find your local library, check your telephone book for listings under "Libraries" in the municipal section (city, county, and state information).
  • To get a free library card, bring in one proof of identification that has your current address, such as a driver's license or phone bill. Many libraries offer library card applications in Spanish.
  • Many libraries will issue a library card to any children who can print their names and whose parent will countersign for them. See that your children get their own library cards as soon as possible so that they can check out their own books — it's a big step for children and young adults!
  • During your first visit to the library, introduce yourself and your child to the librarian and ask for a tour. Don't be shy — it's part of the librarian's job!
  • A librarian can also recommend books that you or your child might like if you ask for suggestions.
  • Libraries provide year-round activities such as author discussions and story times. Some events are for children, while others are for families, teens, or adults. Many are at night or on weekends for parents who work. Ask the librarian if there are any events in Spanish.
  • Libraries may also have books on tape or CDs, Internet access, movies and educational DVDs, games, computers you can use, ESL classes, homework help, and more. Visit your closest library to see what is available!
  • There are usually summer reading programs at the library. This can be an important and fun way to keep kids reading through the summer, which will help them from falling behind once they go back to school in the fall.

As you get ready to visit your local library, take a look at this list of library vocabulary in English and Spanish, published by the Fairfax County library in Virginia.

References

Adapted from:

"Helping Your Child Use the Library." Kathryn Perkinson. U.S. Department of Education Archives, Office of Educational Research and Improvement. First published in 1989, revised in 1993. http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Library/index.html

"Helping Your Child Become a Reader." U.S. Department of Education. First published in September 2000. Revised 2002 and 2005. http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/reader/index.html

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National Education Association. How Educators Can Advocate for English Language Learners.

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