If you want your child to have access to an unlimited supply of books, do what millions of other people in the UK have done and join your public library.
Here’s the great thing: it’s free to join. The beauty of library membership is that you and your child will probably never run out of books to read. According to one website, UK public libraries have about 75 million books. So it’s safe to say your family will never be stuck for a choice.
You’ll find the range of non-fiction and fiction books is enormous. So whether your child is currently fascinated by the Solar System, the stories of David Walliams or JK Rowling, or growing vegetables in a small place, they’ll find the books they want on the library shelves. If the books are out on loan or housed in another library, you can reserve them (there might be a small fee).
A library is a great place to discover topics and interests your kids hadn’t thought of before. Being exposed to so many books in one place, which they can pick up and handle, look through and decide whether it piques their interest, is one of the magical things about a library. It’s a massive reason kids LOVE libraries — it’s literally a place of discovery, where imaginations are triggered, and emotionally and intellectually rewarding adventures begin!
Most libraries allow adults and under-18s to borrow 20 (twenty!!) books for three weeks. Given that the average price of children’s books is £1.95, fiction is £3.30, and non-fiction is £4.37, you’ll save an absolute fortune in just one visit.
Having access to millions of free books is just one advantage of library membership. There are plenty more. For example, you and your child can read free magazines and newspapers in the library. You can borrow DVDs and CDs too for a small fee. Usually, libraries also have a wide selection of audiobooks.
That’s not all. If you download the app BorrowBox, you can browse through your library’s audiobooks and eBooks online and reserve or immediately download the ones you like. It will cost you nothing, and you’ll all be able to listen to or read fascinating books on your mobile device.
Most libraries have computers for their members to use, often for an hour. You might need to reserve computer time, depending on your local library. Having access to a computer and plenty of reference books makes your local library an ideal place for your child to do homework. What’s more, they’ll be away from the distractions and temptation of TV and mobile devices.
Having said that, libraries are no longer places where people get shushed for talking. Instead, they’re lively and vibrant places where little ones can chatter and scamper about. They also offer toilet and changing facilities, something every parent will appreciate! Best of all, they’re usually open five or even six days a week and provide parents and children with a warm, free source of entertainment.
Inside the library, you’ll find a large selection of baby and picture books for children under five. Beginner readers will see storybooks and audiobooks on CD. Older readers will find comic and picture books and reference books they can use for homework, hobbies or interests. The teenagers in your family will find an array of Young Adult books.
There are books for adults on parenting as well as books to help children deal with difficult situations or new experiences, whether that’s going to school, dealing with bullies, or coping with grief.
Children with additional needs will find multi-sensory stories, and kids with visual impairment will find giant print and braille picture books. Families with English as a second language can choose dual language picture books.
Many libraries offer after-school and holiday programmes for young ones too. Some libraries provide space for Parent and Baby Meetings, so new parents can socialise and make friends with other adults.
There are libraries that loan toys to children along with dressing-up clothes, computer games, sports equipment and educational toys for up to a month.
As you’ll discover, local librarians are a tremendous source of information, not just about books. They often know a lot about local services and events and can point you in the right direction.
To start enjoying these benefits, all you need to do is to join up.
Fun Library Facts
- The UK has 3,667 public libraries (including mobile libraries)
- Libraries in the UK issue almost 165 million books a year
- There are 7.3 million active borrowers at libraries in the UK
- Most libraries allow both children and adults to borrow 20 books at a time as well as DVDs and CDs
- The number of books in stock across public libraries was 75 million in 2019
Speaking of loveable libraries for children, your kids can assemble a whole library of issues of BRILLIANT BRAINZ childen’s magazine… just plunder the SHOP (link above) to grab individual or bundles of back issues to complete their collection, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE so they can receive the latest brain-boosting, activity-packed issue direct to their doormat, every month!