The Most Valuable Thing in Your Child's Backpack

September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and you can get yours by visiting the library, finding us at the Fairfax Farmer's Market, or applying online!

School has started.  What’s the most valuable thing your child carries in his backpack?

In addition to pencils, paper and lunch money, make sure your kids have their own library cards this school year.  September is Library Card Sign-up Month, and by going to marinreads.org you can apply for a library card online. The Marin County Free Library card, which includes a key-chain card that can be carried on a backpack, is all the rage among school kids. 

In addition to being able to check out stories for fun and books for reports, they’ll also be able to use the library’s online resources on any home or school computer.  Kids and adults can search our catalog from any computer, and can place holds and renew books online.  With our new “Discovery” search page, kids can search for magazine articles at the same time they search for books, and find great resources for reports on health, science, or current events.

Did you know the library checks out DVDs for no charge, and that the overdue fees have been reduced to 25¢ per day?  The Library had copies of “The Hunger Games” to loan the first day it was released, and you can place a free hold on any movie we’ve got on order. 

If you want to give your child the tools he needs to succeed in school, make sure that reading aloud is a daily activity.  Reading aloud is one of the most important things you can do to improve reading readiness, develop vocabulary, improve attention span and listening ability, and generally create a strong bond with your child.  Children whose parents have read to them learn to read earlier, and usually do better in school than those who had no one read aloud to them.

Even if you send your kids to the very best school, how can you be sure that their education will prepare them for the rest of their lives?  No matter how wonderful a teacher is, she still only sees her students for a few hours each day.  “Raising Lifelong Learners,” by Lucy Calkins, shows how much learning time is available to parents, and how to make everyday events into learning experiences. 

Simply talking to your child, according to Calkins, is an excellent way to build their vocabulary and literacy skills.  In comparison with an average of 30 hours per week watching television, American fathers spend an average of 15 minutes a week talking to their children.   Using examples, including those from her own experience as a parent, Calkins shows how to nurture your child’s future through reading aloud, encouraging writing, and fostering creative play.

Hey, where’s your library card?  If you’ve lost the one you used to have, you can get a free replacement during the month of September.  If you visit the Fairfax Farmer’s Market, you don’t even have to come to the Library to see us!  Staff from Fairfax Library will be hosting a table each Wednesday in September, giving away a free book to everyone who gets their first library card.  Come by and say hello.

You may only discover the most valuable use of your library card if you attach it to your keys, and then happen to drop them.  Because if they’re turned into the library, we’ll make sure you get them back.  And that service, like all our others, is free too.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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