Home and Family

Today’s library adventure

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We had such fun at the library today.  In our county there are branches of the library which all connect to the same system.  On our library day, we can walk to the branch nearest our home, or we load up my daughter’s van and try a different branch which is what we did this morning.  Such a good idea!

We discovered that a recently opened branch has a great children’s librarian, and attended one of the best story times in the valley.  So fun!  There were puppets, stories, songs, and handouts.  We also found a pile of picture books in the book sale area to supplement our home libraries for $1 each.  There is a large children’s section which has bean bag chairs, benches, a couch, and other fun places to sit, and- best of all- a children’s restroom entrance in the children’s section of the library.  No more running across the building to make a quick “potty stop” with the potty-training three-year-old. When I asked for help locating a specific section, one of the librarians smiled, and gave me quick tour of the entire area. And they placed over-sized cubes with beads and mirrors in the check-out area to keep the children busy while you get your books ready to take home.

The boys had a great time.  We had time to relax and enjoy being with them. A good day for everyone!  Next time, we’ll have to take a picnic lunch and enjoy the tables just outside the building!  WIN!

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Home and Family, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

I cannot live without my books!

I live in the land of the American pioneer.  Those hearty souls who loaded up all their worldly goods and took themselves and their families westward to establish a new home.  I often think of them driving the oxen or pushing their handcart across the plains and mountain ranges of this great land.  The fortitude required to press on in the face of all opposition is fascinating to me.  Some came as adventurers.  Some wanted a new life and something to call their own.  Many came for religious reasons to settle in a land of their own choosing to live their beliefs.

In the city where we live, there are museums and displays recounting the trails and trials of their journeys.  Many have reproductions of the wagons and handcarts they used for transporting all they brought to begin a new life.  I sometimes think I could simplify my life enough to fit in a wagon until I look at my books.  I would need a box car on a train! In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without my books!”

I love the public library.  I really love a good book store (new or used).  I can lose myself in them for hours.  One of my greatest joys, though, is to pull a stack of books off the shelves in our home and be transported to another time and place, or to simply find what I need to research the latest idea or challenge.  Yes, the internet has some good information, but I relish the feel of the pages in my hand.  I am definitely hard copy girl!  We currently own over 3,500 volumes, both fiction and non-fiction.  My academic texts are organized by subject. They range from the three R’s to pedagogy tomes.  We have classic literature, comic books, household and gardening reference, books dealing with health and wellness, religious commentaries, and a copy of The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary that has over a dozen volumes and makes me smile when I see it on my shelf.  My kitchen has over 70 cook books. There are books in every room.  You will even find a volume or two on the back of the commode in my bathroom.  (And my amazon wish list has a good dozen or two on it at any given time.)  Can we possibly use them all?  Yes!

Just yesterday, one of my daughters came home with a question about writing goals and curriculum for young children.  Within minutes we had a pile of around  half a dozen books to look through for ideas and inspiration.  I was reminded yet again how much joy and empowerment there is between the covers of a good book.

What books did we use?  Here is a list of what I found (and I am still making a longer mental list for her next visit):

The Educated Mind by William Bennett

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick

Catherine Levison’s books A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education

Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn

Teaching Children by Diane Lopez

She is currently reading The Core by Leigh Bortins.  During her next visit I may hand her Unit Studies Make Easy by Valerie Berndt, Homeschooling by Samuel Blumenfeldt, or books from E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Series.

While I don’t swear by any one of those books, I reference them regularly.  They are all written by articulate, inspiring authors with their own ideas that worked for children who are not the same as my own, but I find great ideas in each, and encouragement in all.  My job, as I see it, is to glean the best from the various methods and texts and create something for my own family which meets our needs and interests.  Without books, I would have a very limited access to these and other minds.  So much would be missed!

So I could probably pare down my clothes, furniture, and even my kitchen equipment to fit into a wagon, but my books?  I don’t think so.

Home and Family, Homeschooling

We love the library!

We attended story time at our local library yesterday morning.  The librarian read three Easter books to the children.  We sang songs, and even got a take-home craft.  Then we chose some books to bring home to enjoy at our leisure.  Some of my best tax dollars at work!

The public library is one of my “happy places!”  I can go and sit quietly in a corner and plan a meal from the wall of cookbooks, work on curriculum in the non-fiction section, find new ways to get organized, or even find a book to read just for fun.  Where else can you get a CD of your favorite music to play as you clean house, pick up a book on CD for the car ride this weekend, and get travel ideas from the internet, newspapers, or magazines?  When I go by myself, I can spend hours just exploring.

They also offer book lists for reading ideas, family programs for free, town hall meetings, and you can look for something new for your family library at the book sale.  You may find a reading program which awards prizes for reading.  Often sponsored by businesses, you can possibly earn fast food, small amounts of cash, books, or other things as an incentive for reading.  This can be especially helpful for reluctant readers, or to simply keep things fun.  Sign up as a family!

Librarians are a gold-mine of information.  They can help you or your children search out favorite topics or find a new fascination.  You can get help locating a much desired book locally or through inter-library loan.  (Not sure what that is?  They can tell you.)  They are well-read, and often more than happy to work with children who are well-mannered.  *True story-when my eldest got her driver’s license, the next person she wanted to show after Grandma was the local librarian, Rosemarie.  When Rosemarie retired, we were all sad.

Just a few things to keep in mind when you go:

  • Learn and practice library etiquette.  Soft voices, no running or chasing, keep the books off the floor, return books to their appropriate places, etc.  It is habit that will help your children for years to come.
  • Leave technology at home.  No need for anything requiring earplugs.  Turn your phone off (or at least put it on vibrate), and take conversations outside.  Enjoy the world of hard copies!
  • The library is not a museum.  If there is a book you really like or refer to regularly, buy it.  The inventory will change according to public demand.  If you are the only person who checks that item out, it may be weeded out to make room for more popular titles.
  • Pay your fines!  Everyone has them from time to time.  I hear librarians often have them too.  Think of it as a donation to the library.
  • If you check out an item and find that it is damaged, bring it to their attention as soon as you can or the next time you are there.  They will appreciate it, and it will save future frustration for someone else.
  • If it is a nice day, take snacks.  Eat them OUTSIDE the library.  Children are generally better behaved when fed.
  • If you use the computers, remember you are in a public place.  Keep any passwords or account numbers hidden and fully exit any browsers you use.
  • We would often try to visit the library when it was fairly empty.  If you avoid story time and go when school is in session, you will often have the children’s section almost to yourself.

When my children were school-aged, we established a routine for the library.
Everyone helped return books coming back, then they could look for what they were interested in finding IF they told me where they were headed.  I required the following: a chapter book (if they were 8 or older), a science book, and a history book they had not read before, and a book just for fun.  If they wanted to check out more beyond that, they could.  I always checked the piles before we left for anything I was unwilling to take home or allow them to read.  The librarians aren’t meant to be censors; you need to be.

The public library can be a wonderful place to spend time as a family, or on your own. If you haven’t been there in a while, go see what you are missing.  If you attend frequently, good for you.  There is always something new to discover!