Before we talk about the benefits of taking baby to the library, can I just take a moment to confess something? I LOVE the smell of the library! (And bowling alleys, but that’s a story for another day). There’s something about it that really gets to me. The musty smell of old books; all that knowledge and adventure and imagination sitting on the shelves. A value that only comes to be realized with age. When I step through those doors, I am hit with a very specific sense of joy and nostalgia; as if I am being transported to my first memories of being in the library. I’m a pre-teen all over again, browsing the young adult section for my next literary escape! How many hours have I spent in those aisles? Looking for something specific, or looking for nothing in particular at all? That’s what’s so great about the library, there’s no limit to how long you can walk the aisles (well, unless of course they are closing) and there’s no obligation to take anything home, or to take just one thing home. I never met a library I didn’t like!
Taking Baby to the Library
Now that I got that out of my system, let’s talk about the benefits of taking baby to the library. As you may have figured out by now, I’m a bit of a fan of public libraries. So, of course, I want to be able to instill that same sense of love for books and the buildings that house them in my sweet baby boy.
Books and reading have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. So much so, that I have had a box of my favorite children’s books that has moved with me to every new home I’ve had since I first left mom & dad’s house all those years ago. My husband and I even started collecting our favorite children’s books and young adult novels long before we started trying to get pregnant!
So, when our baby boy was born, I couldn’t wait to take him to the library for the first time. Lucky for us, we have a public library within walking distance from our house! Sure, we have a lot of books at home, and we got some wonderful ones as gifts before baby arrived. But going to the library is a whole different experience that is just as valuable as the reading of the books themselves.
A Perfect Mommy & Baby Outing
One of the first benefits of taking baby to the library, is that it’s just a fun way to get out of the house! Our first trip to the library happened when my son was 8 weeks old; I know this because I snapped a pic on my phone to document the event. At this point in my maternity leave, I was feeling stronger and well-rested (my newborn was sleeping 8 hours at night…it didn’t last very long) but I was also starting to feel a bit stir-crazy. It felt so good to get some fresh air, take a walk, and end up in one of my favorite places with my little guy. Wearing him in a sling, we walked up and down the aisles. I read him the titles and combed through the pages. At this stage, you don’t even need to be in the kid’s section because he’s too young to have an opinion and it’s more about the time spent together and engaging his curiosity about language. He is learning about the world around him, so any experience can be a worthy experience, which just begins to touch on the many benefits of taking baby to the library. For the record, I was in the kid’s section because I was just too excited for him to fall in love with stories! We did this every week those first few months, each time checking out a handful of books to take home with us. Our first books were high contrast sensory books for baby. One of our favorite baby books : Look Look! By Peter Linenthal.
Borrow Before you Buy
Another great advantage to being a library patron is having a chance to explore a lot of books before you pick out your favorite baby books. You and baby can pull as many books off the shelf as your heart desires, thumb through the pages, take a few home, read them together in your most comfy chair, and then decide which ones you just can’t live without. Sure, we’d all love to have floor to ceiling bookshelves in every room of the house for our extensive book collections (or maybe that’s just me) but the reality is that’s just not very practical. By checking them out at the library first, you can really hone baby’s and your taste. Once you find a keeper, you can then buy it at your favorite local bookshop or online retailer. You’ll end up with a priceless collection of your favorite baby books, instead of a mountain of books you could never find room for or that get left on the shelf untouched for years. Our favorite library find to date : Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld about a little cloud who believed she was meant for something big!
Storytime at the Library
Visiting the local public library doesn’t always have to be just about mommy & baby either. One of the greatest things about your local public library is that it probably has a storytime schedule; a time during the week where local kiddos can gather round and listen to some of their favorite children’s books read out loud by a friendly library volunteer. What’s great about storytime is that baby can enjoy it now, and continue to grow and find new joy in it is as he gets older. The things that excite him now have evolved from even a month ago, and will continue to do so for years to come. Sure, at this exact point in time, he may seem more interested in standing and cruising along the bookshelves than sitting and listening to Mr. Jeffries read a story; but I know that he is hearing the words dance around the air around him and absorbing so much from the experience.
Among the benefits of taking baby to the library, storytime is also a great chance to meet other neighborhood local mommies and babies who are in this great adventure with you. If you’re anything like me, you may find it a challenge to make new mommy friends. You know, the kind of mommy friends that aren’t related to you. So storytime at the public library could be a good way to get your feet wet! They probably live nearby, and they probably have a similar schedule since you are there at the same time. Plus, you know that you share the same value of books and learning. Maybe on the first day, you just smile and make friendly conversation. As you start to see each other more regularly, you become more comfortable with each other and may find common interests or experiences. Before you know it, you’ve found a new friend for you and a playdate for your little one. Remember, babies need socialization too! Even if you only ever see each other at the library, it can be meaningful for both of you to make those connections.