It had been months since our last visit to the library, but today we finally made the trip to check out some new books.
The last time we were at the library left me a little leery of returning again soon. I had taken my three kids to a new library with a beautiful kids’ section complete with a pirate ship to board, a helm to climb, and cushions on which to sit and read.
My boys seemed to be overtaken with the fact that there was a PIRATE SHIP in a library and lost all sense of library decorum as they climbed and yelled and ran around, despite my sharply whispered requests to “be quiet!” and “please settle down!”
When I finally realized we just needed to leave, I gathered everyone up and carried our stack of books to check out to the librarian.
Trying to keep things simple, I only had my library card and my car keys on me. So when the librarian told me the steep overdue fine I would have to pay before checking out our books, our visit became a complete bust. No money. No books.
I came prepared today with my checkbook and our library totes. I also made sure to remind my boys about our previous visit and helped them to remember the expectations at the library. It made a big difference.
Completely ignoring the ship this time, they were all excited about being at the library and finding new books. Even my toddler was happily walking around carrying a book in each hand that she had pulled off the nearest eye-level shelf.
Everyone knows the library is an awesome resource for books, movies, and rainy day excursions. Even though I’ve been going to the library for many years, I still catch myself being in awe of the fact that we can take a stack of 20-30 books home just by swiping our card.
Standing in the sea of books can be really overwhelming though. SO many books. How do you decide which ones will really make the most of a library visit?
I like to think of the books I want to take home in terms of five different categories. If we have gathered a few books from each category, I call it a success.
5 Kinds of Books to Check Out Each Time You Visit the Library…
These are usually my kids’ favorites. We have read about all kinds of animals. More books on spiders than I’ve cared to read. Books on cowboys, planets, tractors, ocean life, and so on.
I ask them what they want to get books on, help them find good options, and then fill in a few gaps myself. Remembering topics of interest that have recently come up in everyday conversations, or things that we are excited about, give me the direction I need.
By making it a habit to regularly check out these books, we have all learned so much. Kids are little sponges and eager to learn. And since their questions very often exceed my knowledge, I need all the help I can get.
2. Chapter books.
My husband and I have started reading chapter books to our boys before nap time and bedtime. We are all agreed that we are LOVING the new types of books we can read. I’ve shared here and here about some of the books my kids are loving before nap time, and my husband just finished book three of the Narnia series before bedtime.
Picking up a great stories at the library and reading them together is an excellent way to start developing a love of reading in your kids. And just think how many books you can get through if you read a chapter or two everyday!
3. Quality picture books.
Look for picture books with beautiful illustrations, endearing characters, lessons that are learned in the midst of a struggle or adversity, or humor that isn’t going to become tiresome after one or two reads. Books that are timeless and real.
With the number of picture books in the kids’ section, it’s best to remember a handful of favorite authors or come prepared with a short list of books to find.
At the bottom of this post are more resources that can help you find quality picture books. (Because we all know that previewing books while paying attention to our kids is a lesson in futility).
4. Holiday or seasonal.
There is always something more to learn about in any given calendar month. Right now, as Spring is starting, you could check out books on starting a garden, flowers blooming, the true meaning of Easter, cooking Spring foods, seasonal crafts, historical events or more.
Take advantage of the current season or holiday to make stronger connections in your kids’ minds, and to help encourage deeper significance with what they are celebrating.
5. Kids’ choice.
These are the books that I would not pick myself, but have caught my kids’ eyes. I want to find the balance between helping them select good books and giving them the independence to pick out some on their own.
So while their picks may drive me crazy and make me thankful when they don’t realize I’ve skipped text (or pages), free pick also keeps library visits fun.
More great resources for finding worthwhile books:
- Series kids love (and their parents do, too) ll Modern Mrs. Darcy
- Favorite picture books for preschoolers ll Simply Charlotte Mason
- Living books list ll Amy Lynn Andrews
- Books that belong in every family’s library ll Modern Mrs. Darcy
- Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life
ll Gladys Hunt