Every mom knows that one of the best ways to start a child’s education off right is by teaching them to love books. Every mom also knows that taking more than one small child to the library is incredibly stressful. So, here are a few library hacks to make using your library with littles a whole lot easier.
I vividly remember the library trip that almost ended our library adventures. My four kids and I entered the library with hopeful hearts, excited for the new batch of stories that were waiting for us inside. That was quickly followed by 30 minutes (well, at least that’s what it felt like) of returning our books with a line of people waiting behind us to do the same.
Then, one needed help in the restroom, one was talking loudly for the whole library to hear, one went missing, and the baby in the stroller started to cry. The whole experience just felt like chaos. And chaos was the way I would describe all of our library trips.
So, after finally gathering the books, (and don’t get me started on the mess it was to check out the books) I stormed out of that library and vowed never to return again.
And I really didn’t take them again.
For a while at least.
Which brings us to the first library hack!
1. The most important library hack of them all! Use the holds!
My first suggestion is, essentially, don’t take your kids to the library!
After my horrible library experience, I started to place books on hold. That way I can get books to read to my kids but skip the time consuming and stressful trips to the library. I could also pick them up when it was convenient for me.
All it takes is a few minutes online and a couple of minutes to pick them up and we have a new load of books to enjoy! Easy peasy.
To be honest, most of the books I wanted to check out to read with my kids weren’t usually at the library anyway. I wasted so much time looking up books and trying to track them down, only to find that most of the books on my list weren’t on the shelf or even available at that branch. Now, when the books I want are available, they wait patiently for me on a shelf at the library and I get to skip the browsing and hunting.
Fast forward a few years and my kids are getting older and we’ve been trying to go to the library more often. Here are a few more hacks I use when I take my kids inside the library.
2. Make friends with the librarian.
Seriously. Go up to the desk and introduce yourself.
Librarians are one of the best, and under-used, resources in the library. Librarians study for years to know everything there is to know about the ins and outs of books.
They are great resources to use if you have:
- any concerns about your child’s reading abilities and what books might be good to improve those areas,
- you need ideas on how to get a reluctant reader to learn to love reading,
- an eager reader who is plowing through books and needs new recommendations.
I would be willing to bet that the children’s librarian would have some fantastic suggestions for all those needs and more.
3. Give each of your kids a library bag.
When we go to the library my arms start feeling very outnumbered, very fast. Even if I have my stroller with me, any space available fills up quickly.
To solve this problem, I recently made some of these really easy tote bags I found on All Free Sewing. It took me just a few hours, one afternoon, to make all 5 tote bags.
Tote bags also help me keep the library books separate from the other books that we own. When my kids bring their books home from the library, we just leave the books inside and that is their storage area while they are at my house.
4. Preview books at the library.
If possible, enjoy a little time at the library and sit down to read the books you kids have picked out. Most of the time, I’ve never heard of the books my kids want to take home so I don’t know if they’re really worth our time. With a short preview of the book, it’s easy to know if this will be a book your child (and yourself) would really enjoy reading multiple times at home.
I don’t like bringing a book home, reading it once and then realizing that none of us are interested in it. That is one more book that we have to keep track of and hope it doesn’t get lost or damaged.
And those are always the ones that get lost or damaged, right?
5. Take older kids and younger kids on separate trips to the library.
This one is a little tricky to pull off but I feel like it’s one of the only ways I can really get in quality library trips with my kids.
Plain and simple, younger kids have different objectives than the older ones when they go to the library. Older kids usually know what they want and they’re learning how to navigate the library to find it. Younger kids are there to play and explore. They like to sit down and read with you or participate in storytime.
When I felt like my oldest was ready to get his own library card we made a big to-do about it. He and I went by ourselves to get the card and then we spent an evening learning how to look up books in the card catalog and how all the books were organized so that he could find what he wanted.
My youngest, on the other hand, thinks it’s a treat to go to the library 1-on-1 with me so that he can play with the train table. We also pick a few stories to read together before we head home.
Especially, since we don’t go together as a group very often, these outings become special times to spend together doing something that we both enjoy.
Again, whether you take your kids to the library often, or you’re like me and take occasional trips, you’re getting books and reading them to your kids. And teaching kids to love books is where the real value lies.
More on library hacks:
- Get the most out of all your library trips with this ultimate list from The Deliberate Reader!
- Another view on why you don’t have to actually go to the library to get the most out of it. Thanks, Jamie Martin!
You’ll Also Love:
- Why We Don’t Do The Library Summer Reading Program (And What We Do Instead)
- 3 Important Reasons To Read Children’s Books As An Adult
- Reading To Relax: A Guide To Self-Care Through Books