Do you want your children to grow up to be responsible, empathetic, imaginative, social humans, with a love of reading following them through life? Then you need to know the benefits of taking your kids to the library from early on!

As parents, we want the best for our children – as the weeks, months, and then years go by, we want to give them all the tools necessary to succeed in this world and become happy, well-rounded little people. One of the things that has a big impact on their perception of the world, their playmates, and everyone else around them is reading. 

Reading to kids from a young age is known to have many positive benefits: from a free imagination and a deeper family connection to improved reading comprehension later in life.

We have talked about the power of literary programs for children, as well as ways you can encourage budding readers to pick up books more often. The good news is, there is an integral element to both of these goals, and it’s entirely free! In case you haven’t guessed it, we’re talking about libraries. 

It’s no secret that libraries are one of the few remaining public spaces that offer free knowledge, community connections, and much more than just books. As such, we recommend every parent or guardian to explore their local library. Why? We’re glad you asked!

Libraries can help bubs and parents alike

Libraries are a wonderful place to introduce children to books and other materials, to join a wide range of programs, activities, and events, but also to find your own bookish community as a parent or guardian. 

On the Gold Coast, City of Gold Coast Libraries can be found across 11 physical libraries, 7 kiosks, and several other reiterations, which means no matter where you are, one can’t be too far from you!

Library programs can help support young children by developing their early literacy and language skills in fun and engaging ways. However, often these programs are not just for the kids! Library teams across the country are also there to help, encourage, and assist parents and carers, providing helpful tips and advice that can be incorporated into their daily routines. As such, visiting libraries from an early age definitely not only helps to foster and develop a lifelong love of reading in children, but also provides a safe and like-minded community for parents to connect with. 

In a recent survey conducted by City of Gold Coast Libraries, 67% of parents and carers identified that attending these library programs provided them with additional community connections, whereas 33% said the programs provided them with more confidence as well as helpful strategies they could implement with their children at home.

As the team at Gold Coast Libraries tell us, “many new parents find their ‘tribe’ at our sessions – and we often see long-term friendships created!”

What libraries provide from an early age

The benefits of starting library trips early with your little ones are far reaching. In fact, children are born ready to learn! More than a million new connections are forming in children’s brains every second during their first few years of life. Playing, singing, talking, and sharing stories with a child from birth builds foundations for future development which can last a lifetime. Therefore, the first five years are super important. 

“It’s never too early to bring children to libraries, and we have books and resources that cater from birth. As we always say – make your child’s first card a library card!” 

Gold Coast Libraries offer a special experience for families with a suite of ongoing programs, all designed to help support the development of early literacy and language skills. 

These regular programs include:

Baby Rhyme Time – Ideal for children from birth to 2 years, these sessions offer a fun program with simple songs and rhymes to nurture pre-literacy, communication, language, and social skills. Talking, reading, singing with young children helps little brains grow – and it’s fun!

Toddler Time – Ideal for toddlers aged 2-4 years, these sessions include singing, clapping, dancing and more! It’s not just fun for the young ones – it’s a great way to connect with other local parents and carers too. After all, who doesn’t love to sing, move and groove – no matter what age you are! 

Storytime – Ideal for children from 3-5 years, these sessions help develop listening, memory, and word skills. With stories, rhymes and songs included, there’s sure to be sounds of fun and laughter with a wide range of favourite stories being told - old and new!

Apart from these regular programs, a Gold Coast Libraries membership also provides access to a range of online resources including Parent TV, Kinderling, and Kanopy Kids

However, “perhaps the best resource of all are our librarians and library teams – always ready to assist parents and carers with their book selections and provide specialist readers advisory services.”

Best of all, 63% of parents/carers say that Gold Coast Libraries programs positively impacted their child’s early literacy skills. What more proof do you need? 

Benefits of taking your children to the library

So what are some of the tangible benefits – besides all the awesome stuff mentioned above? 

Bonding time with grown-ups and other children alike

The aforementioned library programs are not only a great way to establish pre-literacy foundations, but they also provide an opportunity for babies, toddlers, and young children to interact with strangers and to form closer bonds with their parents, grandparents, or other guardians through song and play.

A glimpse into a world of pure imagination

Books serve a very important role in not only your child’s cognitive development, but also their imagination. They can offer portals into real and imaginary worlds; can teleport you to any time in history – past or future; and welcome you into the lives and minds of other people, animals, creatures and cultures. This promotes empathy, curiosity, and higher levels of acceptance. 

You can try before you buy

Books, especially new books, can add a significant expense to any household – especially once they start tearing through stories. Keeping up with buying different books, only to then have them tossed aside for any number of reasons, can be frustrating. What’s great about libraries is that you can check out different types of books regularly, finding favourites, trying new things, and only committing to buying something you know your little ones will cherish for a long time to come. 

Quiet time for the whole family

Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, libraries provide a little slice of heaven for parents and busy little humans alike – otherwise known as quiet time. Incorporate library visits into your family’s regular schedule, pick a book each, settle in for some quiet reading together, and see how it calms both little and big people. 

Help your children be better readers 

Research published by the National Literacy Trust in the UK shows that young people (aged 8 to 16) who use the library are nearly twice as likely to be above-average readers than kids who don’t. You can set your children up for this success by making libraries a regular part of their lives from an early age. 

All in all, libraries are the perfect place to learn, grow, and connect, not just for your children, but for the whole family. So what are you waiting for? 

To find out more about how you can make the most of the first five years of your kids’ lives, check out First 5 Forever, an initiative of the Queensland Government, coordinated by State Library of Queensland.

If you don’t have a library nearby, but you’d still like to access the tools – and the books – for your children’s benefit, then check out our favourite book subscription boxes for kids in Australia.