By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris
What do you think of when you see a book? Are books something stressful? Boring? Magical? Exciting? Something in between?
All of those reactions are valid. Right now, I feel a little sad when I see books. Because of the stress of the pandemic, I don’t have the mental energy to concentrate enough to read very often. I miss being excited about spending a weekend with a stack of books!
It’s okay to not always feel excited about books or reading. It’s okay to have phases where other forms of learning and entertainment are what bring you joy. It’s okay to read books in different ways. Check out the videos and activities below for some ideas on how to do just that!
Watch these videos
In this video, Jenny and I share our favorite books that we can sing! Many people find that songs help keep their attention focused.
Have you tried our Dial-A-Story service yet? Children’s Services staff record new books to listen to every month. This video highlights stories that will be available in April and May. See the complete list of titles every month and call 708.816.2800 to listen.
Try these activities
Both of the videos above show wonderful ways to read books.
I attended a conference session where the presenter explained that some people read better with their ears than their eyes, that visual reading is not everyone’s gift. She referred to auditory readers and pointed out that auditory reading is an important skill. Yes!
If you or your child also are struggling to focus on books, think more broadly. Are there other ways you can interact with books? Tell your own story based on the illustrations, not the words? Listen to a book being read by someone else?
- You can search for kids audiobooks on Hoopla, and borrow them with your Oak Park library card. Ramona Quimby is a fun chapter book series for younger kids, as is Zapato Power. There are also picture books, like Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and books in a variety of languages.
- Pick up nonfiction books with photographs and explore those pictures! Talk about what you see. Librarian Betsy Bird created lists of children’s books with fabulous photography annually, going back to 2016.
- Are you or your child feeling drawn to reread familiar titles? Embrace it! Kids at Jenny’s storytime this week were excited to reread a book they had already read together last year. One little girl said that it “feels good” to read a book she already loves, and a little boy added, “I like knowing what will happen.” I agree with them! I need that, too.
- Rereading is not only comforting, it’s beneficial! Read Brightly shares about fluency and confidence, while Scholastic talks about bonding with characters and family members. This essay from The Guardian talks about the importance of familiarity for all young readers—and adults.
- And last, but not least, set a book down and come back to it, if the kids are losing interest. Even picture books don’t need to be read in one sitting! Keep it relaxed and fun, and kids will want to come back to it.
Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.