Monday, January 7, 2013

Library Books

When we were in Saskatchewan, and I was "that" stay at home mom, we went to the library every week. We would go for story time, then pick some books and one video. Andrew - then Andrew and Aaron - would pull chairs up to the counter to have a chat with the librarians. All the librarians would come out and chat as they thought my boys were so funny. They would order books in for Andrew from bigger libraries when the Melfort library ran out of books on a topic he was interested in.When he went to school, things fell apart a little. We didn't get there quite every week with Aaron who hated going out of the house and Emma who was a sleepy baby and usually napped at story time.

Then we moved to Montreal. The library was closer - only two blocks away - so things were looking up. I thought that even if I was working, we could all go on Saturday and keep up with the books and the reading. Things did not go as planned. First, two thirds of the library was French. Second, the children's library is small, and often crowded on the weekend. They allow families to take out board games and play at the tables in the downstairs part of the library. A crowd of rowdy Chapmans is not a welcome addition to all the quiet, relaxed board game players who apparently have much better parents.

So we don't get to the library much. Just enough to take out books and make them a week or two late before we get back. It just seems like such a chore. Then there's trying to convince Andrew to take out some French books so he can practice his French, and finding an English book that is at his level that he will actually read. And trying to dissuade Aaron from taking out The Seven Crystal Balls (Tintin) that we've read 100 times and scares him every time. While doing this, the baby wants to get down and crawl, or at the very least get out of his carrier, and Emma wants to run up and down the ramp and pull out all the board books. We end up making a cacophony in the library, and exiting with a stack of books I haven't pre-approved and have to hide until they get forgotten about and then, well, not returned until I get the automated call from the Montreal Public Library reminding me that the materials I have borrowed are overdue.

The thing is that Andrew is supposed to read 15 min. a day in French and English. I let him alternate days, but still, that requires having reading materials around the house that are a) interesting and b) at his reading level. This is complicated by the fact that we are not a francophone household, so no one in the house reads French fluently except for him (I try but he complains about my accent). So I don't know what level he's reading at or what books he might like, and he has no one to help him with words when he gets stuck. And I don't know what might interest him that is within his reading level. And in English, he wants to read the Hobbit or the Mysterious Benedict Society, but he just started reading English this year, so he can't read those things yet. Finding books that will interest him AND that he can read himself is tricky. He doesn't really know what will work for him, and I can't spend the time to help him with 3 other kids to supervise.

Today, I decided to try something new. I decided that just me and the younger two kids would go to the library in the afternoon. Because the library is small it was still packed with kids - possibly homeschoolers? - and Owen still fussed. But I did get about 5 minutes to actually find some books that Andrew might read, and some books Aaron might enjoy that won't give him nightmares, and some books that Emma might like that we don't already have at home. And all the kids were happy to read the books I picked when we got home and school was over. I'm hoping maybe I can make this a habit every week or two weeks, so we could actually return books and get new books with enough frequency that my kids can get excited about reading more again. We'll see. I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. Hey Jill, I don't know what level Andrew is reading at but here are the books Elijah really loves right now - The A to Z mystery series by Ron Roy, The I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis, the Wimpy Kid books, Calvin and Hobbes and Big Nate. A to Z Mysteries and I survived are both published by scholastic and you can find them at Indigo, Scholastic orders and some libraries. The boys in my class also love the Lego Dictionaries that are out right now and Superhero Encyclopedias (I remember finding those at the Toronto libraries too). Good luck!

  2. Also, Elijah and Jeremy both subscribe to Lego Club Magazine - it's free and it comes in the mail (Jeremy gets Lego Club Jr - they send it out by age) and they love reading those. I think we signed up on the Lego site.

  3. I can't help you much with picking out books that suit...that are written in French. I do know that The Little Prince was origianlly written in French and is a charming story of a little boy on an adventure through the universe...and it isn't very long.

    I can remember when the library was my friend...oh so many years ago...I would go with my Grandma and we would read together on the big front porch of our home. Happy days. Now I have a library in my home...and my boys don't like to fact they are dyslexic and would rather do just about anything but read.

    Good luck with the new plan. I hope it works swimmingly.

  4. The first book that Peter read by himself was the Fire Cat by Esther Averill. He loved it and we were thrilled to find out that she wrote a whole series of books about cats and their adventures. They are sweet and engaging and they worked for Ben, later, too!

    Roald Dahl and the Henry Huggins books by Beverly Clearly were also huge favourites.