A Library Card of My Own (for Children)

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If you want your child to be a reader, get him or her a library card.

Of his own.

And use it every week.

A library card equals reading independence! It’s empowering!

My (Suggested) Children’s Library Guidelines:

children's library

1. One backpack or reusable bag per child. Allow him to fill it up, choosing the books that interest him. As long as she can carry it, she can fill it in my home. Believe me, they can’t wait to get home and get to read their NEW books!

2. Let the child check-out his own books. Self-check outs are becoming more common with budget cuts. Most little children will need an assistant (you) to help.

3. Decide before you go how many movies you’ll allow.

children's library

4. Facilitate good book choice. Suggest some books you think your child might enjoy or show her a new section – maybe the graphic novels, or the non-fiction craft section.

5. Make the library visit as fun as possible. We like to eat cookies and read our books after a visit for extra library fun!

children's library

6.  Keep the library books in once place when you return home.

7. Try to visit the library weekly or bi-weekly to minimize fines either by returning or renewing. (But, expect some to happen. I like to think of it as helping buy new books for my library.)

8.  Get comfortable on the library website! When you have kids, browsing books at the library is pretty much impossible unless your child is asleep in a car seat. My solution? To use the library website and put books I want on hold. Then, I can just go to the hold shelf and pick up my books in seconds while my kids wait. It’s a wonderful service! I get ideas at Goodreads, Bookmarks Magazine, the newspaper, magazines, book blogs and friends.

P.S. You can renew books online, too!

What Age is Good for a Library Card?

Personally, I found that four years and older works well. What about you?

Umm, just so you know . . .

When I first got my daughters’ library cards it was because I maxed out my own card. But, it was all good – good for me and them. So it all worked out, right? (Just got to be honest . . .) 🙂

children's library

Go to this post to read the best picture books about the library.

The Rights of the Reader (you and your child) 

Best Book Bags

32 Responses

  1. I like this list (inc. the disclosure at the end)! I never understand why parents limit their kids to checking out three or some insanely small number of books from the library.

    I am going to get my two oldest kids library card the next time we go to the library — both because we’re always maxing out the limit on my library card and because it would be great to have them feel a little more responsible for checking out and keeping track of their own books.

  2. We love going to our library and Tessa seems to feel more at home with every visit. Last October when we visited Corvallis (soon to be our new home), the first place I checked out with Tessa while my wife was on campus was the library – and it rocked! I’m looking forward to making the move knowing we have a great library to visit.

  3. I think this post will bring long-term joy to a lot of people. Such a simple, easy to follow prescription for literacy.

    I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been bringing my daughter to the library yet. She was premature, and we’ve been very careful about germs. And we do have quite a few books at home ;-). But now that she’s approaching a year old, I’ve been thinking that it’s time to start making regular library trips. Thanks for this post to jump-start my efforts! (Though I think that getting her her own card now would be, well, fraudulent 😉 )

    1. Jen, you’re so totally fine, especially in your situation. Babies and toddlers mostly chew on books and when they’re from the library, it’s total germ grossness! When she’s ready for story time, you’ll have a blast and it will be the right time.

      Of all the people I know, you’re not the one who needs encouragement to go to the library, Ms. Book Worm!!

      Hugs, thanks for stopping by!


  4. Great simple post! We are huge library fans and already utilize many of these tips. My problem is that I tell my kids to limit it to one bag, but we always walk out with the bag full and my arms too!! This is a problem that I will live with! 🙂

    1. Ha, me, too. I bring a backpack. (Well, truthfully, I always have a backpack. I’ve given up purses forever. Backpacks rock. Especially in the grocery store!)

  5. We went to the library today. I asked if my son who is 3 years old could get his own library card. The librarian initially said no, because the policy is 5 years old. But, she changed her mind. She said, “I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight, if he couldn’t get his card.” He was so excited to have his own card. He held it when we read books tonight. Tomorrow he is going to write his name on it!

    Thank you for writing this post. It made a difference today!


  6. I especially love your suggestion to encourage your child to check out different sections of the library. It’s so important to explore the different genres, and even young children can do so! It’s always great to mix things up a bit, and the library makes it easy to do so.

    Your post is coming at time when libraries really need our support. Funding issues are really having a negative impact, so thank you so much for raising awareness about the value of regular library visits!

    Even with all of the high tech gadgets out there, nothing can compare to the experience of turning the pages of a really great children’s book with a child. And at the library, there is such a wide variety of extraordinary books to share. Not only that, but they’re free, along with many high quality programs for children.

    Libraries rock the world! Thanks for spreading the word in such a fun way.

    1. I knew you would appreciate this post, Dawn. You’re the best advocate for libraries. Thank you!!

  7. Pingback: Reading On the Go
  8. Melissa,

    I love your library ideas! It is so important for children to feel ownership of their reading materials. My kids both bring their own bags and each have their own card when we go to the library. I actually got both of my kids cards when they were around 18 months to 2 years old. I wanted them to know from a very early age that ownership of that card was theirs. I love the idea of extending the experience with cookies and reading upon returning home! I will certainly have to add that tip to our library trips!

    Thanks so much Melissa for participating in Share a Story, Shape a Future today and especially for highlighting the importance of public libraries in teaching ownership and responsibility to children!

    1. Thank you for hosting and allowing me to participate, Dawn! It’s so fun to share this week with you and all the other bloggers!!

  9. Melissa!
    SUPER ideas!! I love how you are teaching your kiddos ownership and responsibility at the library–with their own cards, bags of books, and checkout. I appreciate your tips, too, and will surely pass this super post on to friends!
    You so rock!


  10. A library card is such a simple yet powerful ticket to literacy, isn’t it? I love your ideas here for making it even more special!

  11. So true! When I was a literacy coach, we took kids in transitional housing for their first library cards — it added an entirely new dimension to their view of books and reading. I love the special snack idea too — we’ll have to start that, though we may do it naturally. 🙂

    There was a great short essay on “library ethics” in Miranda ‘Zine a while back that was made for me and my perpetually maxed out card situation…:)

    1. Oh, you, too?! What’s with the limits? We should be exempt I think. 🙂

      How powerful for you to share the library card with kids who hadn’t had one before. Do you know if their parents took them after the initial visit with you?

  12. My daughter was three years old when she got her library card. The only requirement then (25 years ago) was that a child be able to write her own name. Even though my little one was easily able to read the first books we borrowed, I quickly found out that some of the themes and characters frightened her. The children’s librarian was very helpful about suggesting appropriate books that avoided those scary places and that continued to make reading a happy experience.

  13. This summer we took a friend to the library with us. She was 8 and no one in her family had a library card (though they were all avid readers). She felt so special to have it and carried it in her purse with us each week. We’re looking forward to doing that again this summer!

    It is such an easy thing to do for our kids.

    1. WOW – you’re spreading the literacy love — good for you!! We should all adopt kids without library cards and help them get their own.

      I took my neighbor’s daughter last year and gave her a reusable bag to fill. When I brought her home, her mom looked at me like I was a terrible friend – she did not like the amount of books.

      The next day, she called and thanked me. Her daughter wanted to read all night.

      Yeah! That’s the fun of the library!!

  14. I love this post! Great ideas. My daughter asked for her own card about a year ago and she is five years old. She uses a bag similar to the one pictured and keeps her library card in the bag so she doesn’t lose it. We keep all the books stacked next to her night stand in her room.

    It is fun to watch her interests shift back and forth. She has explored on her own the children’s biography section, independent readers section, pictures books, and now graphic novels such as BabyMouse and Lunch Lady.

    Love the idea for cookies or snack when you get home. I will have to try that. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. How fun that she’s moving around in genres! I think that’s awesome. Thanks, Eric!

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