Let’s Chat: When Did This Happen? More Importantly…WHY Did This Happen?

 

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Before my daughter started going to school for the full day, her and I would spend hours upon hours at our local library.  It had a tiny children’s play area with a very old play kitchen, a puppet stage with some very well loved puppets,  a few ancient puzzles, and little jars of crayons that you could check out at the desk to color a picture. There was a giant rug with huge pictures and their corresponding letters.  My daughter and I would pay a game where I would give her clues about the letters or pictures on the rug and she had to hop to the one I was describing. If a child helped to clean up after themselves, they could tell the librarian at the desk and would receive a sticker for their efforts.  There were stacks and stacks of children’s books.  My daughter and I would find a hidden spot in them and sit and read stories aloud, usually about upcoming holidays or events.  We would do all of this for hours and then go into the front room when we started to get hungry.  In the front room, there were a few random blue chairs where her and I would eat our packed lunches and then return to the children’s section for hours more.  At the front door to the building, there was a beautiful hand carved bench which was crafted to look like a bookshelf containing classic stories.  Next to it was an ancient payphone.  My daughter would sit on that bench each time we entered the building and would “call” her grandma each time we excited the building and pretend to tell her all about our day’s adventures at the library.  All in all, spending time at our favorite library was a perfect way to spend our days.   So many of my absolute favorite memories with my daughter occurred in that building.

And then…

Our beloved library received a multi million dollar renovation.

For over a year while they completed the renovation, the temporary location was our place to go.  It was much smaller than our library, but just as wonderful.  It had a few older toys, puzzles, a huge table with blocks, and art project kits that you could check out at the desk.  We loved the temporary location but were counting down until we could return to our favorite main branch and see all of the beautiful improvements.  When the day came where we could finally check it out, we were so excited!

They ruined it.

Not ruined exactly, just…changed it.  Completely.

A gigantic light wall!  Balls that you can shoot up through the ceiling and watch go across the whole room through huge mazes on the wall!  A humongous screen with interactive technolicgical games!  An entire table of ipads!  Big sticky shapes that are meant to be placed on the Velcro wall but you can throw them and they stick!

Gone are the stacks and stacks of books, they are now displayed by theme facing outward.

Gone is the librarians’ desk right in the middle of the room, it’s now on the other side of the library…so also gone is any monitoring of behavior (although this really is the parents’ job but that could be another whole separate post).

Gone are both the beautiful hand crafted bench and payphone at the front entrance.

What was once our quiet, quaint literacy based weekday activity has turned into kids literally RUNNING and SCREAMING through the children’s area.  And not just a few kids…LOTS of kids.  Due to the exciting and newsworthy major renovation, children from all surrounding areas now come to our once quiet library.  Throwing balls, throwing the sticky shapes, climbing on the puppet stage (what used to actually be a tiny doll stage is now a massive custom built area perfect for children to climb).  Everything is brand new, gorgeous, modern, and stunning.

My daughter’s reaction?  She hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  Refused to go back for months.  And I agreed.

There is another local library not far from our town that has a massive slide in the center of the room.  A SLIDE.

When did all of this happen?  When did libraries become indoor play places?

I have always taught (and always will teach) my children that libraries are meant to be quiet places.  I want them to respect the building and the people inside of it who are working, reading, researching, or just trying to enjoy some peace from the loud outside world.  I want them to marvel at the selection of books.  I want them to know that there are endless possibilities awaiting them in those books.  I want them to love those books.  Playtime at the library should absolutely be a part of the experience…but leaving with carefully selected books should be the most exciting part.

When we go to our library now, it’s with the intention that we are going there to play.  Yes, we still check out books…but….what child wants to sit and quietly read while loud kids and balls are zooming all around them?

There is a brand new massive playground outside. It’s huge and amazing and awesome!  But…a part of me misses the old one with the one rickety table and the old tire swing.  I’ll never forget my daughter playing in the dirt under the old tree searching for sticks.  No reason to do that now…the new playground is so huge that no child would ever think of searching at the base of some old tree.

Make no mistake, our new library is GORGEOUS.  Everything about the facility is new and beautiful.  I am beyond fortunate to be able to raise my children in a community where we have this amazing resource. Even the bathrooms are stunning.  But I miss the old bathroom with only the 2 stalls and the broken sink where my daughter learned to read the words “out of order”.

I completely understand that ANY library that actually encourages children to want to come and spend time there is wonderful.  I get it.  I just wish that children would want to come and spend time there for different reasons than they now do.  As an avid reader, instilling a love for books in my children is a top priority.  If I want to take them to a play place, I will take them to a play place.  If I want to take them to a library, I will take them to a library.  The 2 experiences should be different but now they seem to have tangled together…and the result is such a shame.  I also understand that the world is changing and children need to be exposed to the advancements in technology.  I just want to make sure that good old fashioned books and the libraries that house them don’t get lost in that.

As a stay at home mom, my job is to find creative and meaningful experiences for my children to fill our days with a bonus if I can do that for free.

I yearn for the old experiences that our beloved library used to provide.  Our new library absolutely provides experiences, just of a completely different type.  Our new library is so loud and chaotic in the children’s area, not a place you would want to spend an entire day.  We packed our lunches on that very first day we were allowed to finally come back after the year hiatus.  We ate in the gorgeous cafe area…and haven’t packed our lunches since.  Man, I miss those random blue chairs.

I’ve learned as a parent that the best memories and experiences you can give your child sometimes are the simplest ones.  I will never forget sitting with her quietly working on those old puzzles or worrying about when the last time those gross puppets were washed as she performed countless puppet shows for me.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money was spent on the renovation…some of the most perfect and special things in life just can’t be bought.

So…what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with me that libraries have gotten completely out of hand with their children’s areas or completely disagree?  I already know that my opinion probably won’t be the most popular one and that’s absolutely fine with me.  Feel free to speak your mind!  One request…Please refrain from mentioning specific library names or any specific locations in the comments!

Xo,

Jenny

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Let’s Chat: Book Clubs…Yay or Nay?

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I have never belonged to a book club. The idea of them is intriguing to me…Everyone reads the same book and then gets together to discuss it?  Sounds like my version of heaven!

However, apparently it’s not always like this?

Apparently people don’t always actually read the book?!? The discussion get together often turns into a wine drinking event where anything and everything is discussed EXCEPT for the book?  Frankly that would drive me insane.  I could imagine me showing up with my highlighted book and notebook full of notes (#booknerd)…and I’d be the only one ready to dive in and discuss?

And what if I don’t like the book picked?  I would never want to be forced to read a book that I didn’t initially want to read.  HOWEVER, this could also be a huge pro because it would force me to expose myself to pieces of literature I otherwise wouldn’t have selected on my own.  And what if I didn’t finish on time?  I would never want to have to skim the rest of a book just to complete it by a certain date.

I love reading and I love discussing books…but on my own terms.  Hence I started a blog to do just that 🙂

So tell me…are you in a book club?  What is yours like?  Who chooses the books?  What if you hate the selection?  What if you don’t finish on time? What happens when you get together to discuss?

This #booknerd clearly needs some answers.

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Let’s Chat: How Long Until You Officially Abandon A Book?

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We’ve all been there.  You start reading a book and aren’t immediately hooked.  Maybe it’s the plot, maybe it’s the characters, maybe it’s the writing style.  Whatever it is, you’re just not into it.  You keep reading, determined that your opinion will change…but sadly it does not.  Do you keep reading?  Do you close the cover and move on to a new book?  Do you keep that book on your nightstand for another 2 months “just in case” you decide to try it again?

I am a firm believer that there are WAY too many wonderful books out there to waste my time reading one that I’m not into.  With 2 young children, my reading window is small enough…why waste the time I do have on a book that I don’t care about? I used to feel so guilty when I would stop reading a book before I finished it.  Now I am in the mindset where my time is too valuable to waste it on something I don’t enjoy (this also just happens to be my mindest for life in general).

I have a rule for myself to give a book 100 pages before making any judgments. That allows time for characters to be introduced, background information to be shared, plots to take hold, etc.  If I make it to page 100 and I still don’t love it…good-bye.  Book closed, moving on.

There are absolutely exceptions to that rule.  There are times where I will push through…especially if a book has come highly recommended.  Rarely does a book turn itself around for me although it is quite exciting when it does!  I also have broken my rule going the other way and have stopped reading a book after only a few pages in.  Sometimes when you know…you just know 🙂

So tell me…what do you do?  Forge through or abandon ship?  How do you determine what’s best for you? Any books you almost abandoned after starting that turned out to be amazing? I would love to discuss in the comments!

Let’s Chat: Tablet Vs Book Vs Audiobook?

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As all readers know, there are typically three ways to “read”:

books, audio versions, and tablets.

I am a “paper book” reader all the way. I love the smell of the pages. I love the way a books feel in my hands. I love the sound of the pages turning.

That said, I can understand the attraction of the other options. Purse not large enough for a giant hardcover book but easily can house a small tablet?  Yes please. Having tons of books preloaded on your device just waiting to be read wherever you are, even on vacation? Amazing. Driving AND enjoying a book at the SAME time while listening to an audiobook? Sounds like a dream.  However, none of that in my mind even compares to the feel of a “paper” book…

Full disclaimer: I have never even tried to listen to an audiobook nor I have I ever tried to read on a device. Zero desire. Paper books all the way for me…

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Are you like me and will only read paper books? Do you love the convenience of having all of your books on a tablet? Are you someone who listens to audiobooks on your daily commute?  What positives and negatives have you found in each? Do you still consider it “reading” if listening to an audiobook? I’m interested in hearing what you think in the comments!