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Friday, June 20, 2014

How to Visit the Library with Kids

How to Visit the Library with Kids
It is summertime! As my dad always says, "School's out! School's out! Teacher let the mules out!" Few things are more stubborn than your own child when you want him or her to behave in public. Am I right? As I prepared for the end of school, I will admit: the thought of running errands with all three of my kids (ages 5, 3, and 1) was somewhat daunting.

Fortunately, I have developed myself a system for visiting the library with kids. Here is how it goes.

How to visit the library with kids

Plan + Prepare

  • Order books I want (for myself and for the kids) through the online catalog.
  • Gather all library books that are due.

Execute:

Walk in the library doors. I know when I do this I have 5 minutes tops that my kids are going to be willing to stay quiet and by my side (I'm probably carrying the baby).

1. First stop, book drop. Gotta get rid of the books that are already in my bag, and avoid library fines! One time I didn't turn in our books very first. I ended up lugging them around all over and forgetting to turn one in. That's never gonna happen again.

2. Next, pick up holds! My library has a hold shelf I can just walk up to and get my holds. This is always my second stop because it is located in the main area of the library (read: where my children are expected to behave themselves.). At a previous library holds were kept behind the desk, so I would pick them up at checkout. But where I am now, getting my holds first and loading them into my bag helps me know how many books I've already got. It has happened to me before that I've loaded myself down with books, only to have to stop by the hold shelf and pick up so many more that getting to the car is far too hard.

3. Beeline to the kids' section. Here, we browse! We play. We read to each other. If we happened to get to the library at the right time, we attend story time. I know it's time to leave when a) my large book bag is full OR b) the kids are ready to nap/eat/meltdown.

4. Check Out. I like to check out as quickly as possible. Sometimes this means using the self-service checkouts, sometimes it means letting the librarian help me out. Either way it means having my card handy and/or my card number memorized. We've got a library card key fob, and that is my typical choice these days.

How to Visit the Library with Kids

If I do these steps out of order, it just doesn't work out well for me. If we go the the kids section first, then getting my kids back into "follow mommy closely" mode is so difficult. If I check out and then we go back to playing, we inevitably find another book we HAVE to get and therefore we have to check out again (and now the line has gotten long, of course!) and the kids are sick of it. A couple of weeks ago, we had to deviate from the formula twice in one trip (for a potty break and to sign up for summer reading). Disaster, I tell you.

So. This is my tried and true method. Is this helpful to you? Do you have your own pattern of behavior at the library? Do tell!

After you comment, you might like to revisit How Do I Make Reading Fun? or 10 Books to Read to Kindergarteners. Happy Reading!

12 comments:

  1. I went to the library frequently with children the very same ages. We walked a mile to get there, which took a lot of. the energy out of the 3 and 5 year old! After getting books (this was before online reaerves, so I would have to make a separate trip for my books), the children were allowed to check out one video that they could only watch if they got home without whiniing! Since they only got half an hour of screen time a day, this was a huge deal. My oldest daughter got very good at walking home
    and reading at the same time!

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    1. Haha! How awesome! We are in walking distance of our library, but I've only walked with the kids a handful of times. There are no sidewalks along the route, visibility is low and traffic is high. It makes me pretty edgy. I did just buy a reflective vest at a garage sale though, so I think more walks to the library are in our future!

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  2. Great advice, Alysa! Especially about making the most of your first 5 minutes.

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    1. Thanks! That is definitely key for me.

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  3. You have down to a science! What an awesome mom.

    Ah! walking while reading skills. Yes, that is one my kids are good at too, Ms. Yingling

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  4. My library's organization would totally fit your routine! I even have summer reading at the children's desk this year (yay additional staff!) so parents can keep an eye on their kids in the play area and sign up at the same time!

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    1. Yay! That's great! We were actually able to sign up at the children's desk, but it just so happened that the desk was inundated with parents wanting to sign up at that time, plus it was getting close to lunch, plus we had friends with us who didn't need to sign up but they had driven us all so they couldn't leave without us... oh man. Anyway, having services at the children's desk is SO nice. I wish we had checkout services there... :)

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  5. So what about the gosh-darn kid computers at the library? That's what my kids make a beeline for, and I have a hard time stopping them, honestly, because it keeps them quiet and occupied and contained while I can choose good books for them at my leisure. Part of me is annoyed that they're ignoring the BOOKS at the library. But at the same time, I like that I can choose good ones instead of having them follow me around and cram any-old book they see on the shelf into my bag. Not all children's books are created equal. How do you get three kids, ages 6, 4, and 2, to be more discerning in their book selection? :) I don't want to get home with a bunch of books they don't actually want to read ...

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    1. What I've seen some parents do is have the kids pick out books and then sit in the children's are and look at them while the parent browses. Then the kids get to take ONE of their picks home. This works because of the way my library is organized though - contained play area, picture books right outside it.

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    2. The kid computers in my branch are only accessible with a child's card number. I tried logging on once with my kids numbers because no librarians were around and I really wanted to look something up in the catalog and not drag all three of them out into the adult section. Alas, logging on did not work for me. (And of course there were no librarians around to help me log on.) Anyway, we are not in the habit of using the computers.

      As for how to get them to be more discerning in book selection I'd say 1. let them pick out whatever 2. you add what you want to the pile 3. just before checkout decide with the kids which ones are going to get carried over there. If they're not willing to carry it to the checkout desk themselves, they don't really want it. *evil grin* (Of course I'm willing to carry the ones I want...)

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    3. I wish ours were password protected. At least the ones in our previous CA library had a 15-minute time limit on them. These are just open and available at all times. But the key is really helping them find something else to do---choose books first and then look at them is a great idea. And having them choose a pile and then pick a certain number of their favorites to take home would work nicely too, I think. Thanks for the tips!

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