Kids will thank you for time spent at library

Some of my best friends are made of paper and ink.

They are books, and they have been dear friends to me since my childhood.

I can’t pinpoint when I first fell in love with books, but I remember reading aloud with my mother many times before bed while I was growing up, and I credit her and others in my family for instilling in me a love for reading so early in my life.

I remember my mother taking me to Huntsville’s public library when we lived there and letting me roam around the huge building past rows and rows of books extending to heights only a ladder could reach. I don’t remember ever leaving empty-handed.

I always loved the Scholastic book fairs we had in elementary school, and every time we were allowed to check out books from the library, I jumped at the chance to find novels I hadn’t read yet in the “Nancy Drew” or “The Baby-Sitters Club” series.

To this day, I get excited when I walk into a bookstore and see thousands of books waiting silently on the shelves for someone to pick them up, buy them, take them home and become immersed in the lives of characters unfolding on each page.

There is something irreplaceable about being able to escape reality, whether it’s for 20 minutes or two hours, and completely lose yourself in someone else’s written world just by opening a book.

People say my generation values technological entertainment like movies, video games, computers and cell phones more than books, and I’m sure it’s true to an extent, but I’ll always be a proponent of books—the paper and ink versions of entertainment that tend to look worse the more loved they are with fingerprints, creases in the pages and the occasional coffee stain.

I think parents play a huge role in children’s appreciation for books and how much they read at home, where they have a choice and don’t have a teacher telling them what to read and when to read it.

One beneficial thing parents can do for their children while they’re out of school is sign them up for a summer reading program at a local library.

The Chilton-Clanton Public Library and Jemison Public Library are holding “Dig Into Reading” programs designed to challenge kids to read more books and help them find enjoyment in this educational activity.

The Chilton-Clanton Public Library’s program will be June 1–21, and Jemison’s will be July 29–Aug. 2.

The programs will include activity days at the libraries and prizes for the winners of reading contests.

The programs would be great opportunities for parents to help their children obtain library cards and teach them how to be responsible by taking care of and returning books they check out from the libraries.

For children who don’t show much interest in reading, the programs might provide enough incentives for them to pick up a book instead of an Xbox controller.

Years from now, if they’re like me, they’ll be glad they did.

Emily Beckett is a staff writer for The Clanton Advertiser. She can be reached at emily.beckett@clantonadvertiser.com.

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