How to Make the Most of Visits to the Library With Your Gifted Child

Girl Reading Books in Library
Cultura RM/yellowdog/Collection Mix: Subjects/Getty Images

Parents of gifted children are always looking for ways to nurture their children's abilities and feed their need for intellectual challenge and stimulation. One free resource is frequently overlooked -- the local library. Here's how to get more from visits to the library.

  1. Take your child with you to the library.
    Today's parents seem to have a million things to do, so if they do get books from the library, they might add the trip to the library to their list of errands to run while their child is in school or with a sitter.
  1. Set aside at least one hour, preferable two, to spend at the library.
    Too often parents want to rush in, get a book or two, and then rush out. Think of a visit to the library in the same way you think of a visit to the park. You probably wouldn't rush to the park, push your child a couple times on a swing and then rush out, right? You'd probably take your child to the park and let him enjoy himself.
  2. If you know what kind of books your child likes, start by taking a few of those books off the shelves.
    For example, if you have a young gifted toddler who loves picture books, get a few of those and let him or her look through them. You can sit and look through them together. Your child might be a little older and may enjoy books about dinosaurs. Get some of those to look through, both fiction and non-fiction.
  3. Observe your child's reactions to the books you choose.
    After a while, you'll get to know the kinds of books your child prefers. For example, watching your child's reactions can tell you which kinds of picture books she prefers. They aren't all the same. In the same way, you can see whether your child prefers fiction or non-fiction dinosaur books. Chances are, your child will like them both, but it's good to know.
  1. Branch out into other types of books or subjects.
    For example, if you know your child loves books about dinosaurs, get some books on other subjects: space, plants, weather, etc. Your child might enjoy books with word play or mystery stories or biographies or historical fiction. Books are available on all these subjects and more for children of all ages, even the very young ones. Once again, watch your child's reaction to the different books. It will tell you about his or her interests.
  1. Nurture your child's interests, but help her or him broaden those interests as well.
    This is the idea behind trying out different types of books on different subjects, both fiction and non-fiction. Children can only be interested in things they know about and their worlds are generally limited to what their parents provide. Help them see more of what's in the world. You never know what they might be interested in until they've been exposed to a variety of topics: math, language, music, art...
  2. Choose some books to take home.
    Your child may have shown some interest in some of the books you have chosen. Of course, you will want to take those home, but take other books home as well. Remember, your child can have keep these books usually for two weeks, so take enough books to keep him or her occupied for a while. You'll be better able to see which books, too, your child goes back to over and over.


  1. Don't be concerned if your child does not seem interested in the books you choose while you're at the library. He or she may be more interested in the play area and other children playing there. If that's the case, just take a load of books home and let your child explore them at home when there are fewer distractions.
  1. Children who are old enough to choose their own books should be allowed to do so. A child interested in geography should not be told he can't take out books on it because geography will be taught in school the following year (or year after that). Keep your child's love of learning alive by allowing him or her to explore subjects even though they will be covered in school.
  2. Don't hesitate to let your child take out books meant for older children. As long as the subject matter is appropriate, there is no reason to insist a child read books only for his or her chronological age group.
  3. If your child loves to read or be read to, make library visits regular outings. Visits are free and so is borrowing the books!

What You Need:

  • Time
  • Patience
  • Willingness to spend time searching library shelves

Continue Reading