Great Kansas City Star Article

Amy GrothausThe Money Corner: February is the month for love….and the library
Nothing makes bearing the long winter months easier and more enjoyable than snuggling up on the couch with a good book. Maybe that’s why February is Library Lover’s Month.

Grothaus: I am in love with this idea — whether you’re four or 74, reading is an enriching way to pass the time and it’s also a great way to save a little cash. Books really are great getaways. They take us places – to foreign lands, undiscovered locations and different times. They introduce us to new and exciting people.

Best of all, they can do all of this for free and that’s a lot cheaper than booking a flight and getting charged for your bags. The only bag we have is our book bag and it gets filled regularly with great reads for the whole family.

Here’s how my family looks at it: Going to the public library is an affordable winter getaway. You’ve surely heard about the popular “staycation.” Well, this is my family’s version of a “read-cation” and it’s become one of our favorite ways to spend time together. I think my 7-year-old is the most excited for the trip; it’s such a special time as he gets to pick out a new book … and that book becomes his shadow.

I will add, having a reading ritual at night – as many families do – really helps establish a nighttime routine, settles the kids down and teaches them the important lesson of creativity. I also love that this ritual is making my kids readers for life — a trait I’m very proud of as it will aid in their development and help open their minds to new thoughts and ideas.

One of the reasons we love our library is the fact there’s never a charge to check out a book (although there are late fees and penalties if you don’t return your books on time, so stay on top of that). If you love to read like we do you’ll be back for more free fun before you know it. And that makes returning and picking up new items easy and exciting… and you don’t have stacks and bookshelves of books that you aren’t going to read again.

Another great thing about the library is you can reserve books and materials online for free. This is a great feature and a total timesaver that allows us to reserve hot new books and bestsellers easily. Through this, we’re saving the money we might have spent at a bookstore like Barnes & Noble or Borders.

This isn’t just for adults; we reserve a lot of children’s selections, too. And I know a lot of people in book clubs that take advantage of this feature, too! The final thing we love about the local public library are the events and classes, which are usually free of charge. Great for a family on a budget looking to try new things! It really helps us stay out of a rut and gets us out of the house.

Events for kids can range anywhere from book readings, puppet shows, magic shows, exhibits and displays and interactive programs.

There’s great stuff, for adults, too, including book clubs, readings, community meetings, political talks, and much more. Here’s a list of classes, events and general information about some public libraries in Johnson County, Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.

Find one by your house and start reading and participating today. This month get reading and start saving. It’s a great way to fight the winter blues and learn something new – for free!

The Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Amy Grothaus is guest blogging on family money issues while fellow Savin’ Maven Kat Hnatyshyn is on maternity leave. Grothaus has worked in the financial service industry for more than 12 years. When not blogging for Dollars & Sense, Amy manages nine Community America credit union branches in the Northland.

Submitted by Steve Rosen on February 15, 2011 – 1:00am.

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