Ten Tips for Enjoying the Library with Your Children + Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup

I am thrilled to be guest hosting the Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup with Mary, Tami, and Ashley. Literacy Musing Mondays gives bloggers a chance to link up family-friendly, book- or literacy-related posts. Please join the fun!

Ten Tips for Enjoying the Library with Your Children

10 Tips

I love books. I really love free books. I love my kids. I want my kids to love books.

With all this book-loving, you’d probably think I love the library. You’re correct about that, but I haven’t always loved dragging my exuberant kids along with me. Gasp! Any upstanding mother should love taking her kids to the library. You may be wondering if you read correctly. Alas, yes. I didn’t always enjoy toting my kids to the library.

My aversion to the family library trip probably began when my oldest son was four and my then-youngest was a toddler. I’d pack my kiddos into the car while droning on about story hour and book checkout time. With not a moment to spare, I’d herd them quickly into room jammed full of other wonderful munchkins and overwhelmed mothers. Signs posted everywhere instructed parents to actively participate, which usually meant joining the librarian in an enthusiastic round of the Funky Chicken dance. Unfortunately, we had to simultaneously thwart our crawling babies’ escape from the racket music by offering contraband Cheerio bribes.

At the conclusion of the chaotic music- and story-extravaganza, I’d drag guide my darling children to the Easy Reader section for my early-reader son to make his selections. The problem was he had tunnel vision for DC Comic-based Easy Readers. If they were checked out, as they usually were, wailing ensued. Since my toddler had most likely been screaming on and off since stanza two of the Funky Chicken, at this point the din was loud enough to ruffle the feathers of all the childless adults calmly pursuing the bestsellers shelved nearby.

All hope would be lost as I’d scoop up my devastated, bookless four-year-old with one arm, attempting to one-handedly navigate my toddler’s stroller through the front door with the other. By the time my children were buckled securely into their cars eats, my resolve would be firm. I would NEVER EVER under any circumstance visit the library again. My resolve would last about a week until my love for free books once again kicked in and we were off on another library excursion.

You may be wondering by now if all hope for enjoying the library with young children really is lost. The answer, I now know, is a resounding NO. With a little foresight and planning, the library can in fact be a world of wonder for you and your children to enjoy together. Here are the top ten tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Put books on reserve in advance. This will eliminate children’s frustration about not being able to find what they want.
  2. Prepare your children before leaving the house. Get drinks of water and go to the bathroom. Make sure children are not hungry, tired, or otherwise cranky. If that really cool Funky Chicken story hour is happening during naptime, skip it and find another one when they’ll be in better moods. If you have your heart set on a particular class, leave early so you won’t be stressed about getting there.
  3. Go with the flow in classes. Most children’s librarians are wonderful people who have a pretty accurate idea about a toddler’s attention span. They won’t be upset if you have to stop dancing the Funky Chicken long enough to corral your escaping baby. (However, everyone will appreciate it if you remove a truly out-of-control child from the room.)
  4. Have an action plan for finding books. Talk to your child on the way about what types of books he or she would like to find. Discuss favorite authors that you can search for together. I have established a no-reading-until-you’ve-finished-making-selections rule with one book-devouring child.
  5. Know your child’s reading level. The grading of easy reading levels can vary drastically between publishers. Be familiar with the different series so you can steer your child to the appropriate levels. Young readers need lots of help on this one.
  6. Have realistic expectations about what you will accomplish. Don’t plan on endlessly perusing the stacks in search of your own favorite books. With proper training, children can learn to respectfully follow you long enough to make a selection or two, but keep your book shopping short. You can put selections for yourself on reserve, too!
  7. Try to visit libraries with play areas if you have younger children. A toy break in the children’s play area can let the baby crawl off a little steam and give your older children a chance to search nearby shelves. Allowing young children to play as a reward for good library behavior can also be a win.
  8. Keep library books organized at home so rounding up materials before the trip doesn’t become stressful. Our family keeps unread library books on one special shelf. When we finish them, we place them in our return library bag. With this system, we seldom have trouble locating our library materials.
  9. Teach respect for others. Talk about the needs of others in the library. Explain how we can respect others with proper library behavior.
  10. Share happy moments reading your library books together. Let children associate happiness with their library trips.

What about you? How do you enjoy the library with your children?

Now back to the linkup. What have you read this week? What literacy activities have you participated in with your family and loved ones? Please share. All family-friendly posts are welcome. 😉

Literacy Musing Mondays

Ashley from www.circlingthestory.com

Ashley @Circling the Story


Mary @Maryandering Creatively

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Tami @ThisMomsDelight

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About Forever Joyful

I am a devoted wife, mother of three great kids and, most importantly, a follower of Jesus Christ. I love long summer days, photography and stealing quiet moments for writing.
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14 Responses to Ten Tips for Enjoying the Library with Your Children + Literacy Musing Mondays Linkup

  1. Pingback: Literacy Musing : Mom's Library Tips | Mary-andering Creatively

  2. Louise says:

    What a fabulous idea for a link up – so very glad I found it!

    As for what literacy activities we’ve recently participated in – other than bed-time reading not too much recently. A trip to the library is overdue with the kids. They have a few favourites in our town – and one does indeed have a really big toy section.

    I also allow them to borrow DVDs from the library so it isn’t all about books – and mostly let them choose their own. Sometimes we also go in with a mission – eg: find The Princess and the Pea was one earlier this year because we talked about it at dinner. I find having a specific goal sometimes helps 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tips, Leslie! When mine were small I began taking them to the library when they were infants. Our children’s librarian was wonderful and truly enjoyed all the children. I always took a busy bag and made sure the kids all had a good time at the library. It was one of our favorite places.


  4. Ifeoma Samuel says:

    Hello Leslie, thank you so much for sharing with us the very useful tips. There is so much to learn from your post today. I don’t know which tip is my favorite because I find them helpful.

    However, I suggest you make pinnable cards or a kind of checklist printable so more moms can find this post!

    Blessings to you and thanks once again


  5. Julie S. says:

    These are great tips! I remember enjoying going to the library on weekends and I hope to raise my little to enjoy it as well 🙂


  6. Being Woven says:

    Excellent tips! I am a retired teacher, then retired children’s librarian. You are so right that most librarians are aware of attention spans, needs for the different ages, etc. MOST! And we are all…ALL…very different in the way we handle a story time. The last thing we (librarians) want is for the parents (and the kids) to hate, dislike, not want to come, to story time. I, personally, don’t like chaos, so I worked at presenting with fun but not out-of-control fun. And I wanted to keep some sort of upper hand as I spent 20-30 minutes with these kids whom I loved dearly.
    You gave wonderful ideas for parents to come prepared, yet enthusiastic with the children.


  7. I love these tips. We make a weekly trip to the library for story time and my daughter does get a little antsy at times. Reserving books to check out is a great idea and something I will definitely use for next time. Thank you for sharing!


  8. This is a great list! I don’t have any children of my own yet, but I remember when I was younger the only time my grandfather would ever be angry with me was when I wouldn’t want to leave the library. He instilled the love of books in me so much that I would scream and kick if he wanted us to leave before I felt like leaving haha.


  9. Love Peace Beauty says:

    Great tips! I love the last tip – the library should be fun! Not too long ago, I wrote a list about taking children to the library as well! I have little ones and hesitated at first but we go every 1-2 weeks now.


  10. As the parent of a two-year old, we are looking forward to lots of library adventures. Thanks for sharing such helpful and practice advice!


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