Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Libraries on the itinerary

Every European city has its tourist attractions--ancient ruins, Renaissance churches, medieval castles. They're cool to visit. But families shouldn't discount the charm of visiting the public library, either.

In my experience, European children's librarians are warm and welcoming to any patron who comes through the door. They love having kids paw through the books on their shelves. And a children's library is a great glimpse into the culture of a place--the Bosnian children's library is tiny with lots of black and white books by local publishers and usually full of kids playing; the Dutch children's library is large and sleek and clean with large holding in languages other than Dutch.

We spent part of last week in Lyon, France and spent two afternoons, exhausted from our other adventures, in the children's section of the library. There is a robust publishing French language publishing industry, it appears. The library had a large collection of gorgeous full color picture books and even a special room with toddler books (about where our French language skills are). There was also free and easily-accessible Wi-fi for me and Emma Lucy.

One of the kids found the book "Le journal secret de la Sorciere Camomille." Iin it, the witches all get together for a big party. In addition to eating and drinking, they play petanque.

Which I guess pretty much proves it is the national pastime!

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