As a mom, one of the activities I’ve missed the most during the past year is Story Time at the library. It is such a go-to activity – semi-social for the parents, fun for the tots, and educational too – that we went all the time! Story Time is still not an option yet because of COVID risks, but when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library entered its second level of reopening on March 1, we got a pretty good consolation prize: the library reopened for book browsing!
If you’d told me before the pandemic, I’d be doing backflips about browsing for kids’ books at the public library, I’d have thought you were a little crazy. But here we are. When I took my 5-year-old son into SouthPark Regional Library (formerly known as Morrison) recently I was downright giddy. So was he. We checked out 17 books!
Pretty much whichever book he brought to me, we checked out. We got one about penguins for his brother Wes, one about cats for his brother Johnny, multiple collections of superhero stories for all three boys.
For Wade’s fifth birthday in February, I’d bought him a copy of “Charlotte’s Web” to read to him. We finished it and loved it and wanted more, so we came home from the library with three more chapter books for my husband and I to read to him. Wade and his Dad have already gotten through “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and now they’re working on “Stuart Little.”
It’s not easy as parents trying to figure out new and exciting activities to try with our children right now. But I was reminded in a recent zoom with local education consultant Cathie Broocks just how important, and entertaining, it is to read books to your kids. And when you run low on the time and energy to do it yourself, you can ask somebody else, like a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or even older sibling to do it. Judging by my younger twin sons’ reactions to the stack of books we brought home, she was right on target.
I’m not sure yet when I’ll be taking the twins back to the library just yet. The children’s play area at the SouthPark branch is all packed up, with no manipulative toys on the wall, no blocks to build with, no puppet area or toy “book house” to roam through. The twins can be a handful with little to resort to than pulling books off the shelves. But with my 5-year-old, it was the perfect outing for some special 1-on-1 time. We will go back.
After he and I got our stack of books to the car that morning, we decided to keep our old tradition of walking down to the fountain in the business complex directly behind SouthPark library to play in the rocks that line the path around it. Fresh air and a familiar routine; it felt so good to be back doing something we hadn’t done in a year.
About a year ago, I had tried checking out books remotely, then picking them up at the library, but it got complicated, especially with three children in tow. I might reserve five books but only one or two would come in at a given time. And when you showed up to pick up your one or two books, you might find a line of people waiting to get in the library to pick up theirs.
This is different and so much better. Hooray! You don’t have to register or make a reservation to get in, though the number of patrons at any given time is limited. Social distancing and mask-wearing are in play, of course. For more information on what the second level opening is all about, visit cmlibrary.org.