Library Visit Tips

Last week on my Facebook, I received a request to write a special library post.  Elyse left this comment:

I’d love for you to write a post on how you and the kids check things out at the library..for instance did you just pick up these on your own or did they choose them?  How many do they get to check out at a time?  How do you teach them the responsibility of library books?  I’m curious because I would like to take A to get her own card soon. 🙂

 What a great idea Elyse, the library is one of our favorite places.  There are times when we visit the library once a week.  If we land really good books we stretch it out a bit, because no one wants to take them back!

Library Tips

  1. When to start. Our first trips to the library were when Big M was still traveling in a stroller.  The visits were short and I was ready to leave at any moment.  When they were younger, I had one goal.  Find a book or two, keep them as quite as possible and get out without too much mommy embarrassment.  My kids are fast and loud, and they always have been.
  2. The rules. As M and M have gotten older I have been able to give them a little bit more library freedom, but the 3 rules have ALWAYS been the same.  1.  Quiet Voices.  2.  Walking Feet.  3.  Put back what you take out.  While those rules are the ultimate goal, understand that the children’s section of the library if full of children.  Not quiet, slow, or tidy. . .everyone is in training!
  3. Be Prepared. I love the library for myself too, but there is no browsing with my two!  If you have kids like my sisters, then you will probably be able to let them pick out books and then quietly read while you find some for yourself, or add to their stack.  I do all of my book searching at home.  Our county has a FABULOUS library website.  I search the books, movies, or music I want and then place a hold on them.  The library emails me when they come in and they are waiting at the front desk when I check out.  From their site I can also check due dates, renew favorites and find library hours.
  4. Books, Books, Books. The amount of books I let them check out varies.  I try to keep it to 3 or 4 each.  I usually tell them before we go in and then remind them as the stack in my arms grows.  “You’ve picked these 4 books, if you want to check out that one out too you’ll have to put one of these back.”
  5. Story time. Our library has two story times.  One is a Mommy (or parent) and me group.  The other is a preschool group where the kids go in alone.  We’ve gone a few times over the last few years and the kids really enjoy it.  Plus the preschool story time gives me a chance to look at books on my own.
  6. Library Cards. This one actually makes me a little sad.  Since they were little I felt like a library card would be a fun “you can read reward.”  An event that we could build up to and really focus on.  Unfortunately, for our library the kids have to have their own cards.  So I was forced into getting them cards.  The reasons are good; one of our libraries only allows child card numbers to access their computers, and the other has a collection of goodies the kids can borrow while at the library.  They have puzzles, puppets and games, the kids can check out using their card.  So getting the card was good. . .but I’m still pouting.
  7. Librarians. We have two libraries in our town.  Both are about the same distance from my house.  They are NOT created equal.  We have a favorite and the reason is the librarians.  M and M can go to the desk by themselves, ask for help finding a book and receive adult like attention.  Of course, I had to step back a bit for them to find that out! (Update: Last summer we had a great time touring libraries in our county. It was a really great experience and we found out just how different each library is!)
  8. Big kid books. Big M has always been drawn to non fiction picture books.  He knows where the car section is and usually has his books picked before I even catch up to him.  Little M loves girly big kid books.  She finds one with a colorful cover and carries it for 2 weeks.  There are not pictures in these books and they usually have a subject too old for her.  She pretends with those, so I let her get one every trip.
  9. Library Books at Home. I take respect of books pretty seriously, and library books are no exception.  We have books in just about every room, and they have a place.  In the living room they are in a basket, in the hall there is a kid bookshelf, in their room Little M has set up a small space on the shelf for a special stack (right now they are all her pink books).  They are allowed to sleep with their books, but not the library books.  An occasional mid night accident could be BAD (and expensive) news for a library book.

Thank you Elyse.  What a fun post to write, I guess I had plenty to say on the subject!

I would love to answer any reader questions. . .so ask away!


  1. Pingback: Books…read them, write them, love them « Dragonfly Scrolls
  2. I love this post! We do most of the same things. I am so happy to be at the stage now where we can go to the library for at least 20 minutes without having to agonize so much over # 1 and 2. My children could only handle storytimes occasionally when they were in the stage around 12-20 months. Now we can go every week and it is so fun and educational. Thanks for doing a great library post. 🙂

    1. With the kids both in school we don’t get to go to the library quite as often, but I love it! It’s our first day of Thankgiving break and we’re headed there today!

  3. regarding number 6 and your poutiness:
    it might be worthwhile to suggest that your library have an “i can read” card, whereby the newly reading child exchanges their card for one of a different color (green for go?) holding the exact information…?
    or perhaps the children’s librarian could punch a little star into the card, or put a sticker on the card?

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