Thursday, February 5, 2009

There may be no such thing as a free lunch…

As a mother of five young children trying to make ends meet on a single income, I am constantly in search of ways to save money. Finding fun activities that they will enjoy that won’t break the bank can be a challenge. In this day of video games and battery operated toys, we can forget about the old standby forms of entertainment: jumping rope, hopscotch, jacks…the library.

A few years ago a good friend of mine invited me to join her and her children at the local library for story time. I had avoided libraries since my college days. Images of card catalogues and MLA formatted citations swarmed through my mind at the mere thought of the library, but with my boys in tow I buried my nightmares and braved story time.

What I found was surprising. Not only was story time fun, and free entertainment for my children, but gone were the dusty card catalogues of old. They had been replaced by a modern computer system whereby I could not only locate a book in my local branch of the library, but I could locate one on the shelf on any library in the county library system and request it to be sent to my library for pick up! If all copies of a book I wanted were checked out, I could put my name on a hold list and when it became available for pick-up I would receive an email.

Most local branches of the library offer a regular story time each week. You may also find other occasional, family friendly activities offered throughout the year, including: magic shows, musical performances, puppet shows, and holiday themed story telling. All for free! During the summer months libraries will usually encourage summer reading programs by offering fun incentives.

The online world of your local library can also provide fun entertainment for your children. Many libraries partner with other services to provide their patrons with downloadable content. Audio books, eBooks and even downloadable videos are all available from my county library’s website.

If you don’t know where you to find your local library, go to http://www.publiclibraries.com and look for your local branch. You will be surprised at what you find! Your library card may just be a passport to a world of fun, and FREE entertainment for you and your children.

For more online, library fun, check out these websites:

http://en.childrenslibrary.org/ - A website filled with books from around the world (you can actually read the books online!)

http://www.loc.gov/index.html - The official website of the Library of Congress

-Christine

Posted by Christine of Random Thoughts With Chris

Featured weekly on Pink Lemonade Online Magazine

1 comment:

Pink Lemonade Liz said...

Fantastic ideas! During the summer our local library hosts great events like puppet shows, children's musicians and the ever-popular summer reading program with a huge party at the end for all those who reached their goal.

We do tend to forget what wonderful things our libraries offer - check out your local library online - I'll bet you'll see they have some fun things available.

Thanks for the great article Christine!