Start Family Traditions

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Whatever you like to do together as a family, your library can help support or build new family traditions.

@ your library

  • Start a family tradition by making regular family dates at the library. Where else in the community can you spend time with the whole family in a place that has something for everyone...for free?

At home and in the community

  • Make it a movie night. Schedule dates in advance and stick to them. Build in a trip to the library to pick out a DVD or visit your library’s website together to see what movies might be available for download. You can even start a tradition of what you watch: many classics and popular children/teen books have been turned into movies. Read the books and watch the movies together and talk about the similarities and differences between them.
  • If you live in an area with multiple library branches, tour the branches. Document the trips through an online diary. Take pictures of the adventures and learn about each neighborhood. Talk to a librarian at each branch and ask them about any unique collections the branch might have.
  • Become regulars at the nature museum, aquarium or the zoo, and take turns with the kids to plan trips. Using websites, have the kids select from current exhibits, shows and special events. Some libraries offer free or discounted passes.

A Passion for Service

Show kids and teens about the value of giving back. Service projects strengthen your community and send a powerful message to kids and teens that they can make a difference to someone and something larger than themselves. And they can be fun!

@ your library

  • Start at the library. Check with your library to see what information it has or a librarian can recommend about volunteering both close to home and away.
  • Help your teens explore ways they can volunteer at the library. Some library volunteer programs recruit tech-savvy teens to help library users who are newer to technology. Many libraries also engage teens through advisory boards that help give teens a voice on programs, services, materials for purchase and promote the library to other teens.

At home and in the community

  • Teach your kids and teens the importance of civic participation and support their understanding of local and global implications of civic decisions. Take your kids to candidate forums near election time or attend open hearings on local planning for parks and recreation. Many libraries host forums on local or national issues that might interest older kids or teens. Research shows that students in schools with good school libraries learn more, get better grades and score higher on standardized tests than their peers in schools without libraries. Volunteer at your child’s or teen’s school library or learn about what you as a parent should expect from your school’s library program. Download the “Improve Student Learning” brochure for parents from the American Association of School Librarians at http://bit.ly/studentlearning.
  • Advocate for your school and public library. Reach out to legislators who support libraries and education. Let them know you think the two go together and should be high priority for all kids and teens.

Cultural Heritage

Tracing family roots and exploring cultural heritage is often spurred by a child’s school project. Use the library as a starting point for researching your roots or discovering new cultures.

@ your library

  • Ask a librarian for help in getting started. A librarian can demonstrate how to develop a search strategy for tracing your family tree and help navigate through census, church, cemetery and vital records.
  • Check to see what online genealogy database subscriptions the library has that you can access for free with a library card.
  • Introduce books to your kids that portray diverse cultural experiences. Look for books with awards such as the Pura Belpré Award (Latino/Latina experience) or the Coretta Scott King Book Award (African American experience), for example.
  • Libraries offer programs for families on many different subjects. Check to see what upcoming programs or author visits might help your family learn about different cultures.

At home and in the community

  • Chronicle your own family’s stories. Interview each other, then move on to grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. Write interview questions together and audio- or videotape the interviews.

The Green Generation

With growing awareness about how our daily decisions impact the earth, it’s important to teach our kids and teens to care for the environment and show how it affects their lives.

@ your library

  • Check out your library’s website or Facebook page for scheduled programming at the library on topics such as saving energy and water, composting and more.
  • Connect to the natural world with help from the library. Ask a librarian for recommendations for print and digital media that help children and teens learn about nature and the environment. A dedicated section for kids or teens on the library website might also link to suggested resources.

At home and in the community

  • Live green at home. Create a chart so kids and parents can keep track of the items they throw away. See if your library has a home energy monitoring kit you can borrow to monitor home energy use.
  • Check out how-to resources from the library on creating an edible garden to help kids understand where food comes from.

What's Cooking?

Cook with your kids! Visit the library to plan, prepare and enjoy a meal together. With cookbooks, culinary magazines and other media on cooking all available at your library, there are many ideas right at your fingertips.

@ your library

  • Each month, explore the world through food by learning about different regional, national or cultural cuisines. Visit your library in person or online to see what cookbooks can help you begin your culinary journey.
  • See what culinary programming your library might offer for teens —from Cooking 101 to Cake Decoration.

At home and in the community

  • Make storytime delicious! Ask a children’s librarian to recommend a book with a food theme. Read the book together at home and follow it by snacking on a food that was featured in the book.
  • Share stories and recipes about special family dishes. Make a short family “cooking show” video to capture the recipes. Share with extended family in person at the next holiday or online right away.
  • Explore the world of cooking and food with your teen. Check out the titles on the Young Adult Library Services Association’s “What’s Cooking” recommended reading list, which features more than 25 titles of fiction and nonfiction books for teens that relate to cooking or food. Visit www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists. Click on “Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults” and then “What’s Cooking.”