The unschooling diaries: week six
I used to visit the library all the time as a kid. I loved to read, and it was the perfect way to feed my insatiable appetite for books. My mum tells me that she used to take me and my three brothers every week: we’d each choose our books, and when we got home I’d power through my selection before hoovering up everyone else’s.
I’ve never stopped loving books, but somewhere over the years my enthusiasm for the library (at least as a source of stories) faltered. I’m pretty sure it had something to do with all the fines I managed to amass as a teenager…
And then libraries began to fulfil a different need as I began to study. I savoured the quiet and calm they offered in the midst of my frenetic student life, but I would use them to sit and pore through piles of reference books instead. Before Arthur came along it had been many, many years since I had given the fiction section more than a passing glance. And it has taken us until very recently to begin to see its full potential.
We signed Arthur up to the library when he was tiny of course, and enjoyed several sessions of ‘rhythm and rhyme’ until somehow other things started to take over. There were so many other activities to go to, playdates to be had – and that’s all before the irresistible pull of the beach come rain or shine. He’s always loved books, but there have always seemed to be plenty at home.
Except when I started to think seriously about unschooling the library started to take on a whole new significance. What better place to let Arthur loose on the captivating potential for human learning? A place where he was not restricted by prior choices I’d made on his behalf and could truly follow his instincts to find the things he was interested in and wanted to learn more about.
On our first visit a couple of weeks ago that meant mainly playing with puzzles and looking at the globe whilst I picked out a few books I thought he might like to read at home.
But this week was different. To start with the trip was initiated by him – he’d been flicking through a ‘Thomas and Friends’ magazine we’d picked up and come across an advert for ‘Bob the Builder’. He’s never actually watched or read anything about the eponymous handy man, but still somehow he was on his radar, and he wanted more. I said maybe we could go and see what we could find at the library, and his eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
He gravitated straight for the board books when we arrived, finding one all about construction which he began to read to himself. We then went together to the longer picture books and found a brilliant book about demolition. The new concepts and vocabulary he learnt has influenced his play all week, and talks are now afoot with his dad about building a crane…
We chose some other books together too, read one on the sofa in the library and took the rest home. Not only has he enjoyed the ones we picked out, but he’s also found a renewed enthusiasm for reading his own collection. It’s made bedtime a bit more of a protracted process, but I reckon on the whole it can only be a good thing.