Monday, 18 February 2013

#ReadItMD13 - Library Week and why libraries are luscious!

Kensal Rise Children's Library, London
We wanted to devote part of our #ReadItMD13 (Read It Mummies and Daddies 2013) campaign to libraries and it's a spooky coincidence that scheduling things for this week coincided with a fairly high profile argument AGAINST libraries spread across the media. I'd rather like this post to be a celebration of libraries rather than yet another rant against Terry Deary's irresponsible and just plain selfish opinion that they're "Outdated, of no use any more" by pointing out once again, quite simply, that this blog would not exist without Abingdon Library, our 'Local'.

Before we had Charlotte we used to drop in from time to time for books for ourselves, and we'd often meet friends with their children. It seemed like a brilliant family activity, spending a while in the library trawling through the interesting book stacks, watching their excellent fish tank for a while, and doing some colouring and scribbling. We always had it in mind to join Charlotte up as soon as we could and luckily we were reminded when we went to register her after her birth that we could do so pretty much straight away.

Abingdon Library, like most libraries, is a place that people don't just visit for the books and though Mr Deary probably thinks that it's the domain of the old-fashioned stereotypical book hoarder, the children's section at Abingdon Library is always very busy and heavily used.

We used to drop in for Song Group, a nursery rhyme time for children and at times it was (to shoehorn in a well-loved book title) a squash and a squeeze but always very enthusiastically embraced by parents who could let their kids be loud and noisy, singing or shaking / bashing things along with well loved nursery rhymes.

It became a weekly social thing for a lot of parents in the same boat as me, lucky enough to be able to spend a day a week with their children doing something interesting and engaging. We'd grab a stack of books, settle down for rhymetime and then head home to dive into our newly acquired treasure trove. Back then I hadn't really had much of a clue about children's books, other than the vague memories of stuff I loved when I was a kid and when my younger sibs were wee ones so it was great to discover that most of those old classics and their authors were still around and still as well loved as ever.

The idea for the blog came a while later when The Strolling Mum and I decided we'd like to try and keep a record of what Charlotte had read to her, so we didn't continually get the same books from the library and so we could set something up (hopefully) for other parents to dip into.

As I've said before on  Twitter, we're not uber-rich, and can't always afford to buy brand new books for Charlotte so the library, and its frequently updated and well-stocked children's section was brilliant and still is today and is somewhere we'll always support and visit as much as we can.

Now Charlotte has started school it's difficult to drop in as regularly as we'd like but we still make the effort, again because it's the best way of discovering new books and unfamiliar authors we'd otherwise miss. It's always brilliant to find something in the library stacks that other booky folk have recommended, or things you'd missed by an author you'd been tweeting at the previous day.

With funding being cut left right and centre, and the recent move by the government to try and stifle libraries in schools, your local library is more important than ever. As cultural centres are slowly removed from the plans and demographics of modern towns, it just seems crazy not to use something that's provided for free, and can turn into a regular outing akin to going on a treasure hunt. There's always something new or interesting to find in our local library and I'm sure yours is the same too. Just dive in and find out!