Libraries: why they’re good for children

Visiting a public library with your child is a great way to encourage a love of books and reading.

You can borrow great children’s books for free from your local library. Libraries often have audio books, dual-language books, ebooks and magazines too. This means you can have lots of books and things for your child to read – and it won’t cost you anything.

Your child will have fun choosing her own books from the library. Library staff can recommend books for you and your child to enjoy too.

Libraries also offer story times, activities and school holiday programs for children.

What you need to visit the library

You just need to find out where your local library is! Phone your local council or look at its website.

If you live in a rural, regional or remote part of Australia, you can check whether your council offers a mobile or remote library lending service.

If you have access to more than one local library, you could ask around to find out which library has a good selection of children’s books. Some libraries might be more child friendly than others.

When you join a library, the library staff will tell you how many books your child can borrow and when you have to return them.

How to make the most of visiting the library

  • Talk to your child about the library before you go. For example, ‘It’s a place where we can choose some books to borrow for a while. We take the books back when we’ve finished so someone else can read them. Libraries are quiet places. We can’t run around or shout’.
  • Practise using quiet ‘library voices’ at home.
  • At the library, go to the children’s section and encourage your child to browse the books. Give her some quiet time to look through the books.
  • Notice what books your child is interested in, and talk about the books that he looks at. For example, ‘That looks like an interesting book – what do you think it might be about?’
  • Sit with your child and read some books together. Decide together which ones to borrow and which ones you’ll put back on the shelf.

Trying different books is all part of learning. It doesn’t matter if some of the books your child chooses turn out to be too hard or aren’t as interesting as she thought they would be. You can just return them and get something else next time.

Adapting library visits for children of different ages

Most libraries run story times where a staff member or volunteer chooses a book and reads to a group of younger children. A little bit of noise and talk is usually OK at story time, so these sessions can be good for younger children.

Older children might enjoy looking for books in their areas of interest – for example, puppies, ballet or volcanoes. You could show your child how to use the catalogue to search for a topic area or a favourite author.