Recently I posed a simple question to friends, colleagues, and co-workers: Why do first grade students need library cards?
You see, we're developing publicity materials for the Pima County Public Library's campaign to get every first grade child in our county a library card. Last year we gave out 5,600 cards, which was about 50%. This year we want to do better, thus the new publicity.
Anyway, the responses were immediate and WONDERFUL. I figured I'd share them here...
From Facebook friends:
Because opening wide the door of your imagination and curiosity is always more fun when you have your Very Own Key. --Eileen Tuuri
They feel special and important to have a library card. --Patti O'Brien
Get 'em hooked young. --Gene Spesard
It establishes al relationship between the child and the library. --Mary Monkoski
To teach responsibility and to initiate a love of reading and learning. --Leticia Lozano Garcia
Because some homes don't have or can't afford to buy books.... and to encourage reading for pleasure rather than always "for school." --Trish Drasnin
They can go to the library and check out books. Heaven! --Sherrie Baltes
So the kids make their parents take them to the library. "Mommy mommy take me to the library please!!!!!!" --Clarisa Barcelo
As soon as my kids could print their names (about age 4) I let them get a library card. It became a rite of passage for the younger ones, who saw the older ones with their very own cards - and didn't have to use mom's to check out books. --Malena Acosta
So the parents don't get assessed a late fee when we forget to return the child's book on time. :-) --Gina Anstey
Because too many of them don't have [school] libraries and library time in school any more! --Christine Dykgraaf
[Having a card gives children] an early understanding of how we work and their role in borrowing books --@MegCanada
Having a library card - with their name/signature on it!! - makes 1st graders feel important and grown up. --@bphuettner
Because it is their "passport to the wonderful and quite unpredictable world of books!" - Mr. Dewey, The Pagemaster --@bel_hobbs
There is no better way than a library card to instill love of reading and sense of community responsibility/sharing. --@AZpress
Library card = access to entertainment & information of their choice. How often do kids have control over their world like that? --@sangofairy
Responses from PCPL children’s librarians
The library card is FREE.
Having a card reinforces a first grade child's pride in their new reading skills.
The library has free books, music, and movies for every interest.
Reading makes your brain bigger!
The library card is good at 27 libraries all over Pima County, plus the Bookmobile.
The whole family is welcome at the library.
Free computers (children's card provides higher security access to internet).
Online access to live homework help, and high quality information for children's school projects.
You can find out how to protect yourself from zombies.
Good readers do better in school.
Books are friends forever.
You'll be as cool as your friends or family who already have one.
You'll have something to put in your wallet.
To be like big brother/sister.
To learn about cool things.
A library card gives you access to books when the school library is closed (evenings, holidays and summer vacation time).
From teachers (I saved the best for last!):
I encourage parents to take their children to the public library because they enjoy choosing their own books, and it sparks their interest in learning to read. --Teacher from Drachman Elementary School
If a parent were to ask me why their child should get a library card I would have to tell them because the love and passion for reading happens at a very young age. As a child I remember that my first joys of reading came from picture books. If we can get children excited about books at an early age they are more likely to continue reading as adults for enjoyment...this will make them much smarter individuals and help them become more efficient learners in higher grades. Individuals that read have a larger vocabulary and can articulate much better than those who do not. Being an efficient reader will ensure that your child will excel in other areas of school because reading bridges all those subjects together. --Teacher from Oyama Elementary School
I tell parents many things but the first thing I say is that a library card allows a child to have access to books at their reading level at any given time during their development. They don't have to wait to become fluent readers to enjoy great books, the library has a great selection for any reading level. This will encourage their child to enjoy reading as they progress in their development. Another reason is that the library gives a child control over their book choices. They don't just have to read what I assign or books their parents buy. They choose, they control their adventures! --Teacher from Maldonado Elementary School
To have a larger variety of books to choose from more than [the school] library selection. --Teacher at Tucson Hebrew Academy
One of the best reasons for a child to have their own library card is, in my opinion, to give them the excitement and sense of ownership over their own reading. All teachers know that if you can get a child excited about reading the skills follow almost effortlessly but, let's face it, reading is hard when you first start learning! Getting their own library card and being able to choose books from so many available gets the kids excited about trying it out.
When the reading is their own idea, no one has to remind them to practice. The value of excitement in reading will follow them all the way through their education, giving them innate knowledge of facts, grammar, spelling, and a zillion concepts and ideas. It's almost too good to be free! --Teacher at Agua Caliente School
* so that their parents can check out books
* so that they can come and play on the computers
* so they can look at BIG pictures
--Principal of Tucson Academy of Leadership & Arts