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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)

south has been continuously checked out at our house for about 6 weeks. i think it will be a permanent add to our library :) after we "read" it to our daughter a few times, she now reads it to us. being that she's quite young, i love how the lack of words makes her connect to the illustrations.

04.7.2009 | Unregistered Commentertdd

I have become a recent reader of your blog and eagerly look forward to your book recommendations. I have checked almost all of them for the past couple of months and my son has loved them. There are times when I go into the children's section of the library and think that we have probably read all of them, but then your recommendations points me to ones that I have missed. So thank you for this great list and now I have the great Read Aloud book on my request queue, if it's as good as you say, I may just have to buy it!

04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

The library makes me giddy! I LOVE it.

I am impressed that you only take out 6 books...I think we have at least 38 currently out! But I suppose when you have 3 kids ranging from 5-10.5 one may find that amount and sometimes more!

I always take advantage of the displays our library sets up, especially the new books. Something about the books facing out gets my attention!

It's fun to read about others loving the library. I wholeheartedly believe that my children's success in school has everything to do with prioritizing reading! They can't go to bed without a book read to them- just finished all of Roald Dahl's books.

04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

My daughter just recently used her OWN library card. It made the experience even more memorable for her. We go every other week and use our book bag as well. We have a special basket for our books so they don't get lost in the shuffle of all the other books. I just recently cleaned the bookshelf out. She has three shelves full of books and is overwhelmed. I sorted through them and ended up with around 15 books. What a difference! In a couple of weeks I'll trade them out for some more. I'm new to your blog and love it!

04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJodie

I don't ever comment but I love your blog! I am a grad student getting my masters in reading ed and I can't tell you how happy I am to see a parent using a book that us teachers LOVE!

04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate Bing

Have you heard of the book of the book, How to get your children to love reading: for ravenous and reluctant readers alike by Esme Codel? It is such a treasure trove of books (picture and chapter books) and ideas. It's a really hefty book but I go back to it time and time again. Thanks for such great posts!

04.7.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Being a librarian, I love any post about going to the library :) I think it's especially sweet that you are going to the same library you went to as a child. It's nice it's still there.

6 books?! I say amp it up ;) Since we have lived somewhere for a year abroad where there is no public library (sigh, although we have a school library that we are members of which helps but we can only take out 6 books a week ironically, for our whole family though), I am day dreaming about going home in August and checking out no less than 100 books at any one time. I wish I was kidding.

American libraries are amazing.

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

What a great idea, getting the same amount of books each week!

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

My daughter Robin forwarded your library musings today, and it brought back such memories of my days of walking to the library in Inglewood, CA in the late 40s all by my self and browsing leisurely in the little old cozy library there (I think there was a fireplace in there), then coming home and reading, reading, reading on my bed or on the living room couch. Delicious. Then there are memories of trips to the library with our own little children, first a picturesque white building in Willimantic CT and later the little library in Provo on 1st East at Center. Recently, while visiting my niece, I saw that she had brand new editions of the Snip, Snap and Snurr and Flicka, Ricka and Dicka books!!! I was so delighted. When I was a child my copies of those charming books were all from the library!

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJean Marshall

I've been wanting to get that book...thanks for the reminder! Only $9.75 at Amazon & mine is on the way! Thank you also for the Caldecott list, you rock.

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterEm

p.s. I think I need to make some cute library bags for my kidletts. Did you use a pattern or did you wing it?

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterEm

What a sweet post! I love that you go to the same library you went to as a child.

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

This system makes so much sense! :)

04.8.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

sounds just like me when we were at the library read aloud stage - two great books for you to own: Classics Myths to Read Aloud and Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children - I keep movies listed on my netflix queue after years of keeping them on the fridge and a long list of books is in my wallet too! We also had an English production of Greek Myths on tape and listened over and over while driving - it was wonderful entertainment - exciting, interesting and builds a fascination with the myths

04.8.2009 | Unregistered Commentermarnie

Thanks for your post - Jim Trelease's book is excellent! He does have another book out with suggestions for older children too, I believe it's called "Read All About It". I think the library is the best place to hang out with my kids.
Our family's (my kids are 8 and 5) latest favourite author is Melanie Watt. Scaredy Squirrel, Chester and Augustine are MUST READS!

04.9.2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin

I keep my lists of books and movies on my iPhone ;)
I love my library too...thanks for sharing!

04.9.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I love that you take your kids to the library on a regular basis. I have many positive memories of my own childhood library experiences (so many that I ended up as a librarian). Libraries are so important, not only in promoting literacy but in maintaining democracy as a whole. I also love that you limit yourself to 6 books at a time. My husband just put me on a book "diet". I'm now not allowed to go over 100. A book limit is a good thing!

04.10.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Oh my I love the library! I love reading, finding books, and even watching the gorgeous old people filling their days selecting books. It can be such great people watching indeed!

04.13.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBespoke Press

i'm going to track down that book you mention - sounds like such a great resource.

you must be a wonderful mother. i wish i knew you in person.

04.13.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

As a library employee and a future children's librarian, this post made me so happy.

I love it when people love the library, especially little people!

Thanks for sharing!

04.14.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

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