Does the word “Library” emit the same angelic tunes for you as it does for me? When you walk through the doors of your local public library, do soft warm feelings fill your heart equivalent to waking up to the smell of cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning? Do you get butterflies of giddiness fluttering through your heart when you get home and examine your stash? Do you regularly have to make two trips to the car with your haul?
No? Just me?
Or perhaps going to the library looks a little like this. Kid wanders over to the nearest shelf and does one of three things.
1) She grabs all of the paw patrol/pinkalicious/whatever obnoxious character books with no interesting plot or illustration.
2) He finds a children’s book about the War of 1812 with a million words and insists that is the very one he wants to read before bed, knowing full well he will not follow by sentence three. Or
3) She finds that Fancy Nancy book you have read already 2311 times and MUST get it again.
And if any of these examples occurs, you know you could just say “no way are we getting that book. It looks super boring.” But the librarian is sitting right there watching over each one of her little babies, the books, and how could you talk badly about one in her presence? Not to mention you don’t want to be the parent that discourages their child’s freedom to choose their own reading journey. So you get the book and then “forget them” in the car and just end up reading the books you already have at your house. And then you are kind of mad at the library.
I don’t want this experience for you. I want the skipping through daisies one I talked about at the top of this post.
I think it is a healthy habit to recognize and celebrate the small talents you have. And one I feel I am quite proud of is my ability to fully maximize the library. So for those with a less than euphoric experience at the library, here are a few tips…
Use the Library Holds system to your advantage.
This has been one of my favorite discoveries. Reserving books doesn’t have to be just for you. Use it for getting great children’s books too.
In fact, I don’t just use the holds system to reserve the most popular books that I have to wait in line for. I do this for anything I want to check out. While it’s a great way to get books available at other libraries brought to your own, it’s also a lazy trick to have the librarians who specialize in retrieving books to find the books you want off the shelves of your neighborhood library. It’s like having a personal shopper who sets up a dressing room for you. Have you ever tried to look for a particular book on a shelf in the children’s section that the computer told you was available only to discover it’s not ACTUALLY in alphabetical order because hashtag kids are messy? It’s a Type A persons nightmare. Instead, let the librarians wade through that mess and have your book waiting for you when you arrive.
“But doesn’t that take away the process of going to the library with kids?”
Absolutely not. It actually makes the experience more enjoyable. Instead of wandering the shelves staring at random titles and feeling guilty for judging a literal book by its literal cover, you can feel confident that you have a good selection of books ready and waiting for you. Now you are free to just sit and read with the kids. Maybe even the ones you don’t like. Because you know they will stay at the library instead of being the requested read on repeat at home.
This also doesn’t stop me from picking up a few books that catch my eye. That part is still fun. But it takes the pressure off of me to find the right books while also keeping one eye on a new crawler who keeps crawling through the stacks and another on the preschooler asking you to help her find that one book she loved with the purple cover.
“What if don’t have time for the library?”
Well then the holds list is exactly where you want to be. The library shouldn’t be just for the caregivers who can venture out during the day or on the weekend. The library is for ALL. So make your holds, swing in on the way home from work, and be the hero Mom who walks in the door with a stack of new reads. It’s almost as good as coming home with a Happy Meal.
“So how do I know what books to reserve in the first place?”
The best ways I have found to discover great books is by following children’s book accounts or hashtags on Instagram.
These are not only a great resource for the new and notable books, but also for old favorites you might have forgotten about. Some include a fun activity if you are really feeling like a super parent.
Here are some of my faves:
@readaloudrevival @snowyowlreads @kidartlit @book.nerd.mommy @booktomatokidsbook @livingbythepagenatalie @thelittlestbookclub @littlebooksbigworld #kidlit #readaloud #kidbookstagram
With these simple tips you will be racking up the library fines...ehh...I mean donations in no time! And having fun doing it!