The needles are dropping from the Christmas tree like rain, the recycling bins are overflowing with wrapping paper and cardboard boxes, and Christmas dinner leftovers are nearly gone.
Christmas 2010 is past and the year is counting down.
What is there to do in the time that remains before New Year's Eve and New Year's Day? School children are out of school, and many families are off to visit family and friends. Still, most families remain at home this week, and if you are tired of shopping and standing in long lines at the mall and retail centers, the local public library can be a relaxing place to find a world of exciting new adventures.
For children especially, a library card can be a ticket to great places. That small card with one's name printed on it can be a child's first experience with the world outside school and home. For a child, it can be empowering to select books, take them to the checkout counter, hand your library card over, and then be allowed to take the books home.
Thinking back, the library probably was the first public place my children experienced. When my children were very young, we used to go to the library for story time each week. Sitting in a circle on the floor with other children and their parents was a comfortable, safe, and relaxing way for them to learn of new things, stretch their imagination, and interact with others. There were themed events – story time, crafts – for each season. As they grew older, the library became a place they knew well. They went to the library to do research for school projects and to check out books on the school's reading list.
I remember when the first in the series of Harry Potter books was published.
We checked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone from the library and my husband would read aloud the book at bedtime to our children. At the end of a chapter, our children would want the reading to continue. If you have read these books, you know how long each chapter is. We would tell them goodnight, and turn out the light. Years later, my daughter told me that she learned to read by reading the Harry Potter book to herself. After we turned off the light and said goodnight, she would pull the covers over her head and with a small book light, sound out the words.
Ask the librarian for a recommendation of age-appropriate series of children's books. If you find one you and your children like, you can keep on reading through them all. The Harry Potter series is just one of many wonderful adventures for children to experience through the wealth of books to be found in the library. If you are searching for an inexpensive, but valuable, way to spend time with your children this week, take them to the library.
For information about the Palatine Public Library and its branch locations, its collections, youth and teen programs, go to www.palatinelibrary.org. If your child is old enough, get them his or her own library card. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.