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our library routine

I love the library we visit because it's the same one I went to as a little girl. There is a newer, nicer library across town now, and most of my friends go there, but I prefer my old library. I love that some of these books could be the exact ones I read when I was a child, now coming home with me once again.

But even my small library can be overwhelming. So many books crammed into the shelves. How do you choose? I used to wander around picking out books that looked interesting or had well designed covers, but after taking home too many books that I was all too glad to return to the library, I decided we needed a new system.

When I was in college I kept two 3x5 cards in my wallet at all times. One was a list of movies I wanted to see (I was a film major at the time), the other a list of books I wanted to read. Whenever I came across a review of a book or a movie that seemed interesting I would write the title down. The next time I was standing at the video store wondering what to rent, I would pull out my little card and have a long list of movies.

So we never go into the library empty handed. My sister in law introduced me to The Read-Aloud Handbook, written by Jim Trelease. The first half of the book explains why reading is so important for kids, and the second half is a huge list of the best books. I have loved most everything on his list and my copy is now covered with notes and stars and checks so we remember what books we've read, and what books we loved so much we should just buy for our library at home.

I also keep a few lists with my book, a copy of the Caldecott winners, a list of suggested books from C's preschool teacher, a list of favorite children's book authors. (I've put together a list of the Caldecott winners that you can download here.)

And we're now using a library bag. We get six books out of the library each time we go, so we always have the same amount of books out at a time. Books can get scattered around the house pretty easily, so our library books are kept in a different place than our other books, so we're not searching the entire house looking for one lost book.

Here's a sampling of the books we borrowed this week. We try to make it to the library every other week. Books are due in three weeks, so if we go to the library every two weeks, we never have to worry about overdue books. Happy reading!

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Reader Comments (45)

we go weekly to the bary and use similar method. I heart libraries.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy

I love going to the library and definitely think it's better than buying a bunch of books that you'll only read a few times. My little guy is 6 months old and i can't wait until he can appreciate all of the books he can read in the future. I've already started taking him and it's so fun!
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04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKama

Thanks for sharing your library routine with us. My girls are older -- 12 and 7 -- so they frequently check out books from their school library, but we often visit our public library on Fridays to check out some weekend books or movies. Like you, we have one spot in our house where we keep our library books (in the library bag, no less) and by going every Friday, we can easily keep up with what needs returning or renewing. We're on a bit of a hiatus right now, while we work on reading the books that have built up on our personal shelves for a while.

I use Goodreads as a way to track what I want to read -- I keep a little notebook in my purse and transfer books from my "to-read" shelf to my notebook every 3 months or so.

happy reading!

04.6.2009 | Unregistered Commenteraud

As a librarian-in-training (currently in grad school), I love seeing how other people use the library, especially with kids. Looks like you've got a terrific system!

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJanssen

I love taking my kids to the library and think your system of tracking books - both those you'd like to read, and those you've taken from the library are great. Thank you for the tips.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Brooke I didn't know you were a film major at one point! We must chat more on this. Love this breakdown. We ALWAYS have chaos at the library (mostly because A wants to play with the the puzzles the entire time making it hard for me to look around and almost impossible to leave without a tantrum). Picking out books ahead of time will hopefully help calm things a bit.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered Commentermer

Thanks for sharing your system. I'm trying really hard to be better about taking my daughter to the library (I'm shooting for every 2 weeks, too). I just get stressed out trying to decide which books to get and which ones we've checked out before.

I can definitely relate to this organizing style.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Another book to look into is called Honey for a Child's Heart. It does have a religious bent to it in some parts, but it has a wonderful list of children's books by age, subject, etc. It's definitely worth checking out.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered Commentererin

Your blog is one of my favorites!
I've loved the book bag idea, and I'm thinking to give one to my nephew too (he will be born in july!). I think it's a good present, and he'll use for a long time!
Happy reading for you =)

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBruna

Our Monster has finally expressed an interest in books other than her repertoire of the same dozen, so we are getting our first library card for her. I am so excited! Thanks for this post, it is rather inspiring.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

How funny! We almost checked out South today! But we were over our limit. Next time!

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I love your book bag! I'm a frequent visitor if my neighborhood library, so I need to look into making a book bag. Is this a pattern from a Lotta Jansdotter book?

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Thank you for posting your book suggestions...I always use them as a reference when we head to the library and I have yet to bet let down! I love that you shared your routine...and I am looking into the Read Aloud Handbook.
Thanks again.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

i LOVE the library, too! it is probably my favorite stop of the week with my girls. thanks for the book list!=)

04.6.2009 | Unregistered Commenteramy

My sister is soon to be the mother of three a 5 year old, 1 yr old and well, in 5 months she'll have a newborn - I'm thinking the read aloud book might be something she could really use. Thanks!

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKristin

We got to the library every Friday after speech therapy ~ it's such a nice way to end the week. I really like the reading rockets website (http://www.readingrockets.org/books/awardwinners). It has lists by different awards (Caldecott, Illustrators, etc) plus lists by subject matter, science books, middle age readers, etc. It's a wonderful resource!

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Oh yes, I love the Read-Aloud Handbook - it really is a great resource! Keeping lists & a library bag are great ideas :)

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I love libraries too and the older the better right ? My dream is to one day go to NYC and spend an entire day or two in the Main Library, ah heaven. As a pre-teen I remember a perfume add in a magazine, 'Windsong' or something but it shows a young couple spending their summer afternoon in an old library, individually of course then meeting each other and finding true love. I think that's part of the magic for me, books slash libraries = love.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacy Z

I'm in LA too, and I've taken to using LACL's website a lot. I search their database for books I know I want to check out (a few of them I first heard about here!) and then place a hold on them. Then I just need to pick them up at my local branch. I also do renewals online (and we renew books a lot). And whenever we go, I always let my son pick out a few books off the shelves that look interesting to him. I loved perusing the shelves as a child - just the sheer amount of literary choice before me. And I usually end up grabbing a couple books off the shelf myself.

04.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterNina

We too love the library ~ we don't have a television so we go once a week to get a few DVD's for Friday night movie night. And then we get a few books while we're at it.

I thought I'd add an author to your list that I truly love - Petra Mathers. She has a few books about Herbie (a duck) and Lottie (a chicken) who live on the coast somewhere. My two favorites are "Lottie's New Friend" and "Dodo Gets Married". They're quirky, funny and very sweet books with adorable illustrations - and they have lovely messages about friendship and love.


04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

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