Your communityConnection and support for families
Libraries help children, parents and carers make friends and build support networks.
Having children is a huge life transition, and libraries play a big part in helping parents around the country adapt and enjoy time together.
Being part of a community offers social connection, friendship and support. It’s great for our mental health.
Tracy Hager is Children & Youth Librarian at Wiltshire Libraries. She sees up close the value libraries offer children of all ages - and their parents:
"Adults might think their kids need to be quiet at the library, but that’s not the case. We tell customers there are quieter times to visit, if that’s what they need. But we want the library to be a family-friendly space as well.
I love meeting new parents. I understand how hard it can be. I tell new mums and dads: your baby can cry. You can cry. You can feed the baby. You need a hug? I’ll give you a hug.
I love babies, and I love watching little people - I love trying to work out what kind of person they’ll turn into.
I’ve had letters from adults who were in my teen reading group as kids, who said being in the group changed their lives.
In a recent teen reading group I had 16 readers debating our book of the month. I suddenly noticed that I had known every single one of them since they were newborns. They’d grown from infants, to toddlers, to preschoolers and some are now my Summer Reading Challenge volunteers.
I expect some will become co-workers too…"
Things youngsters love at the library
Colouring and crafts
Opportunities to play and create alongside peers
Freedom to explore
A safe space for children to feel in control and make discoveries
Participation in storytimes, reading challenges, code clubs and more
Tips for bringing the library into your child’s life
The library changes lives - and is a great place for little ones to make new friends.
Start them young
Children are never too young to visit the library.
Lyndsay Glover is a Service Developer for young people at Explore York Libraries and Archives. She says the benefits for new parents make the library a great place to spend time and begin a child’s library journey.
“We try and get mums into the library as soon as the baby is born - and then they tend to keep coming,” she says.
Libraries have seating, free bathrooms and there's no pressure to spend money. With storytimes and rhymetimes as well, tired parents might be surprised at how welcome they are at the library.
Come away with something fun
Don’t forget - the library is a treasure trove of stories!
Once you’re there, encourage your child to find a book they like the look of. Then make it clear they can take it home with them. This can be a ‘breakthrough’ moment for youngsters. Likewise the ritual of bringing books back and choosing the next ones.
“A boy in one of my reading groups put it like this,” says Tracy in Wiltshire: “‘The library is my favourite shop in the whole world! There are books, maps, games, and you can hang out for as long as you like. Where else can you get that for free?!’”
Build a day around it
One thing that can surprise people is how much children tend to love the library. Even a change of scene can entertain a toddler - and that’s before you add new people to play with!
With games, events and books on offer for older children too, it’s a safe and fun activity to plan a day around.
Check out what’s on
Lots of libraries publish their events and programme listings online.
Check out your local library’s website or search for it on Eventbrite. You might also be able to book your spot for more popular activities.
Ask a member of staff
Library staff want you to enjoy your time enough for you to come back again - so they’ll be happy to help. And return visits are great votes of confidence for staff and volunteers.
“We get a lot of the same people coming back,” says Helen Halliwell, Library Floor Manager at Halton Libraries. “So we know we’re doing something right!”