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. 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!

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. 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.