We visit the library a lot (I know this comes as a giant shock to you). Since Ella was super tiny, we’ve gone at least once a week, and often twice.
Over the years, I’ve gotten better at corralling my children, making it a fun excursion for everyone, and being sure we take home decent books.
Here are some of the things that work for us:
1. Put books on hold. One of the questions I get asked most is “how do you find good books at the library.” I wrote a whole post about the resources I use to find book recommendations and I place holds for anything I’m interested in. I don’t love browsing through the stacks and I’d much rather be assured we’ll be able to pick up at least a handful of books I’m interested in every week.
2. Have a set number of books they can check out
. Of course, my girls
love browsing the stacks, and so I let them pick out a couple of books each week. To keep things simple, they can each pick out as many books as Ella is old (currently 4), and this gives them a chance to try something new, find old favorites in the stacks and basically feel like they’re in control. And since they know the number is four, they don’t fight it. They also each have one of these cute little tote bags from Edeenut
to carry their books home in (seriously, aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen? My girls take them EVERYWHERE).
3. I don’t let them use the computers. The computers at our library don’t have many kid games on them and if I let them use the computers, that’s ALL they want to do at the library (and we didn’t come to the library for more screen time) and I end up having to help a lot, which is not why I came to the library. So I have just decreed that there is no computer playing at the library. There were definitely tears the first time, but now we don’t argue about it every single time.
4. Attend library programs. One of the best things we’ve done is get to know the librarians and the easiest way to do this is to attend library programming. We’ve gone to story time since Ella was about eight months old. Currently, we go to Music Makers once a week and attend Lego Club every other week. (Yes, somehow, we are missing story time in there. I should rectify that, but having a brand-new baby isn’t probably the time to add something new to the schedule). I like that my girls know the librarians and they know us, and that they have consistent good experiences at the library.
5. Start when they are young.
If you’re reading this and have a five-year-old, I know this is really annoying advice. But early exposure I think helps with them knowing how to behave and picking out and returning books is just part of their routine. Plus, a librarian who has known your child since they were six weeks old? Priceless. When we visited Texas in December, we stopped by the library and saw the librarian who did baby time for Ella and has loved her ever since (and Ella thinks she is the best person on earth).
6. Explore non-book items
. I’m always amazed at what different libraries have available to check out. Our current one has lots of puzzles, books with CDs, music CDs (which we listen to in the car a lot), movies, and take-home crafts. In Texas, Ella checked out a new puppet every week (while I tried not to think about the germs associated with plush puppets that had been circulating for a decade). Some libraries have cake pans or games or book club kits.
I’d love to hear what works for you when you go to the library too!
And! Edeenut and I are giving away a library bag for your child too on Instagram
, so if you like cute things, head over here