Photo by David Sim
A note from Jamie: This post originally published on June 14, 2010. Libraries are just the greatest, aren't they? I get giddy feelings each time I walk through the doors. Hope you enjoy yours this summer--in whatever way you choose!
Libraries are magical places.
One summer when I was ten or 11, I rode my bike to my school's library every day. I got there when the doors opened and spent three happy hours until it closed.
I fell in love with books. The librarian and I became good friends; occasionally I helped her with special library projects (This made me feel so important!).
I look back on that summer as one of the best of my childhood. Much of my future was sealed in that room as a ten-year-old.
And nobody had to bribe me to be there.
These days I load up my sweet crew of three and we head together to the magical reading place. Cheers erupt from the gang when I announce our plans for the day.
Often my voice is hoarse by the time we leave the library, and I have to finally say, "Mommy has to take a break from reading for a few minutes."
Now it's my children's turn to fall in love--with pages, words, images, stories.
They don't need pizza coupons, tacky plastic gizmos that break on the way home, or piles of stickers to do so.
A book is its own treasure.
If our children don't recognize the prize within the pages, then it's our fault, not theirs.
Ours--for thinking kids never learn anything unless they are forced or rewarded. Ours--for making education so boring that they'll do anything to get out of it.
If you want your kids to love books, don't promise them a free ice cream cone.
You have to love them yourself. Inspire, respect, nurture, share.
Then we won't need to bribe.
(A note: As the post shows, I think libraries and hardworking librarians are amazing. As mamas, I just think we should be intentional in making these types of decisions. If you have a book-loving kiddo already who wants to participate in a summer reading program, then that's awesome. I would likely let my children sign up if they wanted to--because I know that the love of learning is already there. So go forth and read lots!)