The time-honored craft of book binding, where leaves of printed paper are stitched into volumes that can be held and cherished by readers, is an apt metaphor for the work of our children’s librarians.
Through their efforts, children are introduced to library offerings and the many opportunities therein, including reading, which is the focus of Children’s Book Week, Nov. 6 through 12.
Since its 1919 inception, when it began as a combined effort among the nation’s booksellers, librarians, and publishers to increase literacy, Children’s Book Week has served as a pivotal partner with schools to foster children’s love of books and promote an informed citizenry in our communities. Today, when library experiences include a variety of media, the two-week annual celebration of books, and of reading, is of paramount importance.
To fully grasp the crucial part children’s librarians play in this endeavor, one need only broach the subject with Margie Decaro, head of Children’s Services at Center Moriches Free Public Library.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sharing family time and free play,” she said. “Our children’s librarians encourage families to participate in activities that are age appropriate, engage their interest, and encourage reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure broadens horizons, fosters creativity, and develops imagination through vicarious experiences.”
Through free play, as well as guided activities, children also learn valuable social skills such as cooperation, adaptation to new experiences, how to share, and have positive engagement with others.
Free play is especially important to childhood development, but is frequently limited in current school settings, where additional mandated curriculum absorbs more of the school day, often at the expense of unstructured activities.
As part of its program, CMFPL children’s librarians regularly offer yoga for relaxation, seasonal crafts, as well as STEM activities in conjunction with the L.I. Science Center.
But for two weeks every year, in May and again in November, the emphasis is on books. This year, in its family program, parents and children made their own books, writing stories and decorating them.
“We strive to be a welcoming place with something for every child,” Decaro said.
“And there is something here to interest every family member as well.”
Parents meet one another here. For new mothers, the Baby and Me activities help introduce them to other mothers and reduce isolation. Families can find resources for free entertainment through library streaming services, eBooks, puzzles, games, an extensive DVD collection, and free museum passes.
The Library of Things has materials for home projects. There is a seed bank for those who want to start a garden. And, there is a social work intern available to help find outside services when needed.