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. 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!)

  2. 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!


  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!