Loving Your Library Time

img_6560Most mums know that local libraries are well worth the visit, but I’m not sure that we all get the same value out of our trips.  Inspired by Christie from Childhood 101, I thought I’d share my hints for making the most of your trip to the library with the kids.

Firstly, I let my kids have their own library card.  Yes, they might be young, but it’s not the end of the world if they lose it.  (I keep our cards together and only distribute them inside the library anyway.)  It’s important that they feel they have some ownership over this time, and it feels terribly important to have your very own card in your hot little hand.  My daughter can borrow 10 items with her card, but letting her pluck 10 random books would be a waste of time.  Here’s the breakdown of what we usually borrow:

  • one dvd chosen together (why pay for them at the video store if you can have a great kids dvd for FREE for a month?)
  • one cd chosen together (great for quiet room time for older toddlers, car music, or rainy days)
  • TWO books chosen independently by her
  • six books chosen by me (usually 5 fiction and 1 nonfiction)

As my daughter gets older, she will choose more and I will choose less, but for a toddler two books is plenty!  Most of the time Little Miss 3 chooses books I would never pick, but I remind myself not to talk her out of her choices.  She will not learn how to select good books unless I allow her to experience some ordinary ones!  She is starting already to put a book back if it has too many words, or the pictures aren’t colourful.  These are sound, early judgements.

While she is choosing her two books, I go through the picture books alphabetically looking for books that meet my criteria.  Firstly – word count.  It’s unbelievable the number of books on the shelf which are just too long for a young child to sit through.  Most of the big publishing houses in Australia won’t publish picture books with a word count past 600 words for a reason.  That’s no more than a couple of sentences on each page.  If I pick up a book with paragraphs it’s an instant fail.  Next I’m looking for a story.  That might sound like a silly thing to say, but in order to enjoy reading time together at home, and in order for your child to begin tuning in to important underpinnings of language, you need to select books with a well crafted, good flowing story.  (There’s a whole new blog post on that… another time)  Lastly, I’m looking for something that is in keeping with my child’s interests.  Always remember that as a parent YOU are the expert on your child.

If I find a book that has only a few sentences on a page, with a good story to it, and a topic my daughter will like…. we have a winner!  I stop when I have enough, and make a note of which shelf I’m up to for next time.  Oh, and if I can only find three great stories (sometimes happens because the best books are always out, of course) I only borrow three.  Better to just have three wonderful books that get a “Read it again, Mummy!” response than to have additional books that stay in the library bag.  I also pick one nonfiction picture book.  Most children find them interesting, and it is good to expose them to other genres, but in the early years I cannot emphasise enough the importance of stories.

With full library bags we head to the counter to check out our items.  Our library has recently introduced a self-service facility so Little Miss 3 inserts her own library card, and I help her to “beep” her books.  I remind her that once the book has “beeped” it’s her job to take care of it until we return it.  That’s the deal.

Finally, I do try to remember to collect the library cards back from the kids before we leave.  As I said, it’s not the end of the world if they lose them, but it is embarrassing asking for replacements more than once or twice!

9 thoughts on “Loving Your Library Time

  1. I tried using the library but with two of them it was a case of “chase me” “no chase me’ …both running different directions out the auto matic door – leading to a huge flight of tiled stairs a few metres away.

    I will try again with my husband helping I think.

    We have a hundred books (maybe 200) gifts, or more collected , passed down (from MR 16)and found at school fete (hwole box for $1).Some are not particularly good but colourful and I make my words up.

    I found your ideas on choice of books very informative – thank you.

  2. @Trish – LOL I can imagine twin toddler boys might be a handful in the library! Since you have such a great collection at home, maybe you could “practise” what to do with your “home library”.

  3. Great post Squigglemum!

    We love our library but its quite small, we lost our former library in cyclone Larry and our temporary one has a very small children’s area, so we don’t use it as much as we used to. We are however currently campaigning for a better library and I’m hoping to get the kids involved in this process too.

    We love playing libraries at home too, my eldest is 8 and he makes librarian badges and library cards and set up different sections for games, puzzles, fiction & non-fiction and even themed areas (dinosaurs & Australian animals usually feature at our place)


  4. I love the library, well not just one. They all have something different to offer. Story time with craft for my 3 year old on a Friday, Babies Books and Rhymes on a Tuesday or going to the State Library any day. It always has wonderful actvities on for the kids. Chermside has a boat to sit in and read books, Mt Ommaney has a cubby house. Our local library has a huge park outside. We have been known to make use of all our cards in our house bringing home up to 60 books, (especially when moving). We bring home the crappy ones aswell and then talk about why they are not so good. I let Zoe choose books but before it goes into the bag she has to sit look over it and tell me what she thinks it will be about…very intreresting what she thinks sometimes. I love the library, I used it for all of my pregnancy books, baby food books etc.

  5. Just because I saw the Dr Seus, Erin’s favorite book is Horton Hears a Who. We don’t read it as such, mostly we just look at the pictures and turn (crumple) the pages.

    I agree about letting kids have their own library cards. Erin’s only two and she has one. She “helps” me borrow the books and put them in our bag. Our library has a big empty kids section (with a computer that we love) so she plays while I look at books, sometimes she’ll bring me books off the display shelf and as long as they’re not too wordy we borrow those too.

  6. Love the tip about starting at A and looking through the books a bit more systematically, from A-Z. I tend to be a bit hit and miss, attracted by the covers and drawn to books I know from my teaching time.


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