Your child's most important school supply is a library card, says Lizz Roberts, community relations coordinator for the Whatcom County Library System.
"In libraries, children and parents have the chance to see, touch, interact with and hold the physical book," says Bethany Hoglund, head of children's services at the Bellingham Public Library. "That interaction with and selection of each book individually creates a connection. The physicality of a book, of each individual book's look, feel, size, weight and smell can create a distinct, and often lasting memory of that story and with whom it is shared."
The best thing a parent can do to prepare a child for school is to read aloud with their child, Hoglund says. Getting your child a library card and checking out books is an excellent way to have a new story to read every day, she adds.
"We specifically have reading lists for children beginning preschool or kindergarten and love to assist children of all ages find a book they will enjoy, as well as assist them with any information need they might have," Hoglund says.
The Whatcom County Library system offers two kinds of live online chats that can help with homework. The homework help service is available 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day of the week for grades 1 to 12 at wcls.org/encyclopedias-a-homework-help. Tutoring includes help with finding materials for English, math, science and Spanish lessons. The "Ask a Librarian" online chat is available 24/7 with answers to direct questions at wcls.org/ask-a-librarian.
HOW TO GET A LIBRARY CARD
Residents of all ages are eligible for library cards that provide free access to books, audiobooks, music and DVDs.
The Bellingham Public Library serves residents of Bellingham. The Whatcom County Library system, with branches in Blaine, Deming, Everson, Ferndale, Lummi Island, Lynden, Northfork, Point Roberts and Sumas, serves Whatcom County residents who live outside of Bellingham.
Bellingham and Whatcom County library cards work at all locations, but online access is limited to the library you hold the card for.
A parent's or legal guardian's signature is required for applicants younger than 18. Address verification of the parent/guardian is necessary for a child to obtain a library card. Verification can be made with a parent's active library card, a parent's driver's license with current address or a bill or official piece of mail with parent's name and current address.
Materials checked out on a child's or teen's library card don't accrue late fines, but parents or guardians are responsible for replacement fees for materials not returned after 60 days.