Guidelines for a Visit to the Library

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Want to make your library visits more successful? Here are tried-and-true guidelines for a visit that results in lots of reading and warm fuzzies.

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-checkouts 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.

guidelines for a children's library visit

4. Facilitate some good book choices. 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 one place when you return home.

7. Try to visit the library regularly –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 from 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?

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

Of their own.

And use it every week.

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

Personally, I found that four years and older works well.

What about you?

Full disclosure…

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?

children's library

originally published 2011, updated 2022

library visit guidelines for parents

Go to this post to read the best children’s books about the library.

The Rights of the Reader (you and your child) 

Best Book Bags

Kindergarten Reading Books

Books for Kids Who Love Video Games

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library


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  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!