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Story Power: How librarians can encourage kids to read

Are you a librarian who wants to share the power of stories and reading with children? Are you looking for ways to get children to visit the library regularly? Here are some ideas that librarians shared with us that will help you do this.

Library Week: Use South African Library Week (in March each year) to encourage children and reading clubs to sign-up as members of the library. Run special events at your library that will attract new members and show everyone what libraries have to offer.

Treasure hunt: Help children become familiar with your library by inviting them to join in a “treasure hunt”. Hide small items in different parts of the library, then write clues that will help the children find the items. For example: “You will find this treasure on the shelf where the books about wild animals are.” Let the children work in pairs to find the items.

Time for tots: Set aside a special library time each week for 0 to 2 year olds and their caregivers. Spend time sharing children’s songs and rhymes together. Then provide board books and other books for babies for them to read together.

Story time: Offer a story half-hour for young children once or twice a week where you read aloud from different picture books in the library. Remember to display these afterwards so that children can look at them on their own. Have paper and crayons available so they can draw pictures inspired by the stories after you have read them.

Speed dating: Introduce older children to novels and information books in the library by inviting them to a “speed dating with books” session once a month. Let the children spend 15 minutes choosing any three books that interest them that they have not read before. Then call them together and allow about two minutes for them to decide which of their three books they will present to the group. Now let each child introduce a book and explain why they think everyone will enjoy it. After they have all introduced their books, ask everyone to vote for the books they would most like to read. Display a list of these books in the library.

Holiday activities: Offer a school holiday programme at your library where children are able to listen to stories, act them out, write their own stories and do fun craft activities like card- and puppet-making.