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Discover the Benefits of your Public Library System | With the Springfield-Greene County Library

Discover the Benefits of your Public Library System | With the Springfield-Greene County Library

This month on the Growing Good Dads blog, we’re focusing on being a good dad to kids between 6–9 years old. If you have a child this age, they’re most likely in the middle of their summer break. Because summer is the perfect time for relaxation and fun in the sun, the last thing some kids would want to do is go to the library. What’s so fun about the library, anyway? 

Stephanie Smallwood, Youth Services Coordinator with the Springfield-Greene County Library District, sat down with Good Dads to erase the misconception that the library is a boring place where you’re not allowed to make any noise. On the contrary, Smallwood and her fellow librarians strive every day to make learning fun through a variety of programs and resources perfect for dads and kids alike.


It’s not too late to register for the summer reading program! 

The theme for this year’s summer reading program at the library district is Adventure Begins at your Library.” All ages, adults included, are invited to participate in the self-driven program, and the challenges are scaled for different age ranges. 

Eager readers who complete the summer reading challenge before the August 10 deadline can look forward to a variety of exciting prizes, including:

  • A library fine waiver (for kids only)
  • A free book (kids only)
  • A “summer passport” that provides free experiences and other goodies from area businesses (kids only)
  • Keep reading to earn entries into drawings for other prizes, like gift cards and free admission to the Dickerson Park Zoo
Via Bookends 

“Summer reading is a tool that is perfect for families at whatever level or whatever their goals are for their kid,” Smallwood explained. “We don’t really subscribe to how kids and teens complete the program; they can complete it in whatever way works for them as a reader and as a family of readers. And we get feedback that families use this in lots of different ways.” 

The easiest way to participate in the summer reading program is to stop by a Springfield-Greene County library branch or any Mobile Library to pick up a game board, which is a fun and engaging way to keep children motivated to read during summer break. If a game board isn’t your style, dads and their kids can also sign up online at the library’s website, thelibrary.org/summerreading


Beyond books

Smallwood said one misconception about the public library is that the only items on offer are books. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! 

In addition to a huge catalog of books on any topic, visitors can also find CDs, DVDs, magazines and periodicals, audiobooks, comics, cookbooks and more. 

What most folks might not realize is that the list doesn’t end there! Depending on the library branch, the following items are available for checkout:

 “There’s no end to what you can do at the library with the resources that we have,” Smallwood said. “It’s a good, free alternative if it’s raining or too hot to go to the park. It’s one of those locations that families can put in their rotation.”


Programs and workshops

 We’d be remiss not to mention the wealth of other free events happening this summer at various library branches around the county, including crafting programs, book clubs, game programs and much more. 

Smallwood is especially excited for the Adventure Begins summer program series, which was made possible by the library’s nonprofit arm, Friends of the Library. 

“For summer, since we know families are looking for more fun things to do, we have magicians, musicians, ballet, mad science—just a huge variety of talent this summer,” Smallwood said.  

Here’s just a few upcoming library events that we think dads and kids will enjoy:

  • Fantastic Fridays – free stops at some of the most educational and fun locations in Springfield, including the Nature Center, Gray/Campbell Farmstead and the Railroad Historical Museum
Via Springfield-Greene County Library

Good Dads readers are encouraged to view the dozens of events detailed in the summer 2024 edition of Bookends. The quarterly magazine is also available for free at any Greene County library branch.

How can dads make reading fun regardless of literacy level? 

Even though most kids can read longer books by age 9, Smallwood cautioned against comparing your child to others. Everyone learns at their own pace, and the library is here to help.

“(At) the public library, we’re thinking a lot about reading for interest, reading for enjoyment and reading for learning as well,” Smallwood said.  “For kids in that learning-to-read age, there’s something sometimes called Level Readers or Early Readers. They’re going to start with shorter chapter books then move on to longer chapter books we picture with middle-grade readers.” 

Smallwood recommended visiting the library’s website to see book recommendations webpage. There, librarians have categorized staff picks based on reading level, genre and award-winning books. 

When you and your kids find a book that piques your interest, click on it to either place a hold on the book or check it out via the Libby app, a free mobile app that lets you digitally check out many of the same books you might find on library shelves. 

“We’re there for you to help you be the best dad you can be, whether that’s resources or experiences.” Smallwood said. “Don’t hesitate to ask reference staff for parenting resources. A lot of parents forget about that. 

“We also have resources to help with learning, education, kids learning how to read, developmental disabilities, and all kinds of different topics that parents need information on. We have those and we have staff that can help you find what’s best for you.”


How can dads get their children to read more? 

“Not everybody’s going to love to read.” Smallwood wants to reassure Good Dads readers. “That’s true for kids, too. You can’t make them love anything. There’s going to be some of us where it’s not our thing and that’s okay. Make sure you’re doing the things you can that are accessible for us. That will give our kids those skills, whether they go on to be a hammock reader the rest of their lives or not. But they have the skills, and that’s the goal.” 

You can’t force your kids to like reading. However, having a better attitude about reading may help your kiddo build up skills in elementary school and beyond. Here are a few ways you can help to potentially increase your child’s desire to read.


Don’t make reading feel like a chore 

“When you’re trying to learn, and you get so much prescribed activity for school, it becomes a chore for some kids, and that’s just a fact,” Smallwood said. “Trying to break that is best done as a family. For your children to be readers, one of the best things you can do is be a reader yourself.” 

A lot of people are readers without even realizing it. If you enjoy reading a particular magazine or study books for certain skills like cooking or gardening, that counts as reading! Smallwood especially stressed the importance of reading together as a family.


Reading out loud counts as time spent reading 

The summer reading program for kids logs hours spent reading. Time spent reading aloud to your child counts towards that goal! 

“For many kids it’s much more enjoyable,” Smallwood said of listening to parents read aloud. “They love that period of being with their beloved adults. It’s a good bonding experience. But it also helps to develop comprehension much better.”


Treat reading like exercise for your brain 

During the summer months, the summer slide can affect many kids. Just like an athlete who doesn’t train before the big game can’t expect to perform at her best, a child who doesn’t train their brain during the break might not be ready for school by the time August rolls around. 

Smallwood stressed that a brain break is important during the summer months. Kids shouldn’t have too much prescribed learning throughout the summer. Even reading for short increments a day can help your child better prepare for the upcoming school year. 

“If you don’t read at all or if you do it sparsely, some kids will suffer or fall behind, and they certainly won’t keep up with their peers,” she said. “That’s one reason why we have the summer reading program. We’re trying to give you tools … to make it as fun as possible.” 


Signing up for a library card: a rite of passage for kids! 

Children of any age can write a library card so long as a parent or legal guardian accompanies them when they sign up, Smallwood said. Some parents decide it’s a good time to get a library card when their child can write their own name.

Even though the parent is technically responsible for items on the card (and may be on the hook for overdue fines), signing up for a library card can be a great way to teach your children about independence and responsibility. 

It may also be one of your children’s first opportunities to discover what interests them. With this newfound freedom and the whole library as their oyster, children can explore hobbies they want to pursue, find books on new topics that pique their interest, or maybe even fall in love with an awesome comic book series.


Show off your reading superstar!

Send us your family’s photos of reading over summer break for a chance to be featured in a future blogpost and on Good Dads social media! Simply email your photo with a brief caption to [email protected]

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