Back-to-school: Start a new routine with your local library - MetroFamily Magazine
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Back-to-school: Start a new routine with your local library

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Settling into back-to-school routines means nightly homework and extracurricular reading for both parents and kids. If you're a parent of an elementary school-aged child, you know the drill: 20 minutes of reading every night. Reading logs, AR tests, comprehension quizzes. It's all part of the bigger picture to make reading a lifelong habit but fostering those skills doesn't always happen according to pedagogy, rubrics or pre-labeled forms, the rigid methods we sometimes have in mind. It's all about finding what interests your new reader. Visit your public library for OKC family fun that's educational and more diverse than you might expect. 

The Metropolitan Library System serves my family's area of the state. Gone are the days of silence, card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal system. My children look forward to brightly-colored play areas, group activities and finding new stories. It's actually one of the largest library systems in the country and the varied selection reflects its place in our communities. That variety is a huge factor in maintaining their interest and the required 20 minutes each night don't feel tedious when my second-grader looks forward to sitting down with a book he selected. 

We visited the Edmond branch this past Saturday and the first thing we had to find out about was a Stars Wars-themed reading event featured on a poster in the lobby. It's now an item on our calendar to attend next month. Theme days, classes and events are common in the Library's roster and many are offered without charge. Lapsit for toddlers, a narrated storytime that includes free play, a puppet show and bubbles to chase, is what my two year-old looks forward to all week. The Summer Reading Program this past season motivated us all to keep reading and that habit, including weekly visits, has continued into fall. The fact that the program has expanded to include adults also lent us some momentum. My sons ask me throughout the week when we can go and I know they enjoy the experience, like a mini field trip they can count on each weekend. 

Reserving books and other materials is also really convenient for school projects and saves time if you don't have half an hour to spend at your local branch. Enter your library card information in the system, search by keyword and request what you need; it'll be waiting for you within a few business days so all you have to do is stop by and pick it up. We hit a busy period a few weeks ago, just as my son's class was discussing the life cycle of a plant, so I took a few minutes to reserve some titles and it made the difference between him being prepared on the topic versus having to Google at the last minute. What I found was age appropriate, complete and accurate. 

Technology too has its place at the Library, from quick reference for finding what you're looking for to the materials available. There are educational games, videos to check out and new e-reader and electronic book options.

My goal in visiting, though, is to cultivate reading without the use of  a screen and finding titles that fit diverse interests is a key reason we continue to browse the shelves. Our list on-hand at the moment includes "Nate the Great," an assortment of Halloween books, board books featuring "Clifford the Big Red Dog," information about how the earth's axis rotates and a guide to drawing three-dimensional monsters. It's enough to keep us entertained in the evenings until next Saturday's visit and the weekly challenge to round out that school reading log. 

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