Character Education at the Library

Last weekend, since we didn’t have anything planned for Riley on Saturday, we decided to bring him to the Jurong East Library to return his animal books (Last month’s theme was Animals since we were planning to visit the zoo). This month, he is all into numbers, and so we decided to swap his current books on animals for a Numbers theme.

At the library, I encountered two kinds of parents that left me scratching my head. I wonder if they knew that children copy the actions of their parents. Tell me if you have seen these types before.

Type 1: My handphone is the most important.

This parent was literally 99% on his handphone, typing furiously away on one hand while carrying a toddler in the other hand. I was reading out loud to Riley when I spotted him. He saw what I was doing, pretended to browse some books, picked up a book, and chucked it into his toddler’s hands, and returned to his phone.

Why do some parents think that by bringing their child to the library means that the job is done? The venue is only the beginning.

Type 2: You shall not touch my books!

This parent was sitting with his child. They have selected roughly about 20 books which they placed around them and the parent was reading to the child. Another toddler comes along, and was briefly distracted by the books that this parent had, and took a book from “his” pile to flip. Immediately the parent got all defensive and gave the “WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING MY BOOKS?” death stare to the toddler. He was on the verge of snatching the book back from the toddler, when the toddler’s maid came along and got him to return the book, and brought him to pick out another one.


Ever since the last batch of books we borrowed on Animals, coupled with bring him to the Singapore Zoo, Riley is able to pick up most of the animals names quite well. He knows that the lion roars, because he heard it roar at the zoo, however he thinks all giraffes go “Um!!”. In case you missed our previous post on what he learnt at the Zoo, click here “The Day Giraffes Were Not Tall”.

After spending about close to 45 minutes choosing and reading books, we were ready to leave. And this was when I spotted a trolley that had a sign that said “Please return books here after browsing.” It was empty. I see a lot of books lying around. It seems that parents are fine leaving the books all over the place and leaving it up to the librarians to pick up after them.

This was not the kind of behaviour I wanted Riley to follow. So I turned to Riley, and gestured to the trolley and I pointed to the books and said “Keep”🙂
He still could not understand, so I demonstrated one book for him to see.

Well, as all learning goes, you will not get it right the first time. This is an NG for Riley’s first attempt to keep the library books.

After a few tries, he decided to practice his shuttle run here.

I get funny stares all the time. But seeing how Riley now knows that he has to keep his books after reading, it is worth it.

A parent must always have a keen eye for teachable moments. If at the library we are more concerned about our phone or about the “ownership” of books that we spotted first, we might miss opportunities to guide our children to learn more important lessons in life.

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