Libraries Change Lives
January 20, 2016 • Features & News

By Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library

Like me, you may be hunting around for that personal growth resolution. You know, that habit that will transform your life, bring you contentment, and help you see the world from a new perspective.

Let’s all make a resolution to visit the library more (Okay, I work here, but it’s still a great idea). For me, the library represents that crucial blend of intent plus serendipity. Intent happens when you walk in the door ”intent” upon a particular book or movie or topic, and you find what you want, free of charge. Serendipity comes into play in-between “intents”—you’re looking for Charles Dickens, and your eye slips over to Jude Deveraux, and you end up with not one, but two new reading obsessions (Who needs sleep?). Or you stop by for a tax guide, and end up grabbing a Paleo cookbook. The serendipity of noticing new topics of interest has a huge impact on us—just look at Silly Putty and Post-Its, both discovered when someone was trying to develop something else. There’s genius in the unexpected.

And I know I don’t have to tell you (but I will) how important the library is in the life of a child. Start early. Parts of a child’s brain are irrevocably formed by age five. Give your child a jumpstart on learning, language, and social skills with storytime, music time, and stacks of picture books.  Once your child is a reader, be sure reading stays their lifelong habit. Pick up a couple of Mo Willems’s addictive Elephant and Piggie stories, laugh out loud to Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks, or take home some audiobooks with lively narrators (Yes, audiobooks count!). And for all children, be aware that summer is a time to retain and build skills. “Summer slide” is not a fun amusement park ride but a phenomenon in which children who do not seek out summer learning activities lose knowledge year after year.  Your library’s summer reading program can be your first stop after year-end report cards and ragged lunch sacs hit the hall table.  At our library, we have summer reading and summer math game challenges.

A great way to begin your library resolution is coming up soon. The first Saturday in February is the fifth annual Take Your Child to the Library Day. It began right here in Connecticut as the invention of librarian Nadine Lipman and has grown each year, spreading to more places around the United States and the world. Visit your library’s website or call your children’s department to find out what special activities will be taking place that day or that week. Almost every library in Connecticut is participating, so you’re sure to find festivities nearby.

(Logo courtesy of illustrator Nancy Elizabeth Wallace)


Map of Connecticut libraries:
For adults, NPR’s best books of 2015:
For families, Take Your Child to the Library Day participating Connecticut libraries:
For families, audiobook resources for children and teens:


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