When I first started going to the Library I was really overwhelmed! I thought,”good moms take their kids to the Library,right?”… Wow, those first few visits were very stressful! I would try to look for books relevant to my kids, hold a pile of books and wrangle my two toddlers, who have zero library etiqette by the way, all at the same time. We would bulldoze over to the check out counter with books, bags and jackets turning over chairs and book racks. When we reached the check out desk I would search for my library card in my pocketbook and snapping phrases to my children like, “Shhhhh, girls. Shhhh. Oh, don’t pull that off the… go put that back!” It has taken a while, but now library time is less crazy and more enjoyable.
Here are a few tips I have picked up from our toddler library adventures:
#1. Get a plan before you go:
It is always helpful for us to have a goal for each trip to the library. Knowing what I am going to do when we arrive and what I am looking for when you get inside are so important to keep our trip fun. How are you going to entertain the baby while you are looking for books? What are your toddlers going to do while you pick out books? What if someone needs to go to the potty? Thinking through these things now will be super helpful in the long run.
#2. Go to the bathroom first thing!
If you are a mother of multiple children, you may already know the benefits of everyone going to the bathroom in one trip. It just cuts down on a whole lot of back and forth.
#3. What to bring:
I bring a library card and a cloth style, reusable grocery bag. They are the perfect size to carry 10 or so books and mine has a pouch for my library card. I keep the books in the bag all week. This way they don’t get mixed in with our pile when we are not reading them. I try to leave everything in the car except the library bag and Jed’s baby bag.
#4. Get a tour:
This could be a good thing to do with or without your children. Ask the Librarian to give you a tour of the library and things specific to your age children. Ask about fiction and non-fiction books, tapes, cd’s, movies and computer games. The library computers are the only ones I allow our girls to touch, since my computer is used for work. They think they are big shots sitting at the computers listening to stories with earphones.
#5: Know what you are looking for:
For us newbees, it has been a while since reading a picture book. I do not remember many from childhood. I would encourage you to ask your friends what they check out for their kids at the library. Before you buy a book from a bookstore, check to see if it’s available at your library for free. Google “book list for preschoolers” or toddlers. Find out what the best preschool books are… then find out if they are available at your local library.
Also, come up with “themes” for library day. For instance one week we did a unit on Noah’s Ark and the colors of the rainbow. So, I asked the Librarian to help me pick out 4 books that talked about rainbows and colors. If you get a chance to go online, visit your local library’s website before your visit. Make sure the book you want is available before you go.
#6. Entertain the troops:
It is alway good to either keep your child involved with what you are doing, or find something interesting for them to do while you pick out books. Sometimes I let the girls play with toys while I look for books. Sometimes they sit at the computer and listen to books. Other times I have them pick one book from the display table and look through it while sitting still at a table. It is easier for me to pick out good books when I have a few seconds of calm.
#7. Try new things:
Books are not the only thing your library has to offer small children. This past week we checked out the “listen and turn the page” style books. My oldest really enjoyed it. During her “down” time, she listened to the story and turned the page when prompted. She was so proud of herself for keeping up with the story and turning the pages on her own. Also, most libraries have older movies you may rent for free. And don’t overlook the magazines, they have great ideas for games and crafts.
#8. Read Aloud Hour:
Most libraries have a weekly reading time open to the public. Every program is different so I encourage you to find out what is available for your little ones. Somedays we start with the reading time then hang out and check out books after. Our girls love it when we go.
#9. Checking out:
Have your card out when you go up to the desk makes the process faster. My tendency was to pack everyone up, get ready to walk out the door, then check out my books. But, I have found that it’s easier to check out my books while my children are interested in playing, reading or on the computers.
#10. Talk to your Librarian:
Getting to know your Librarian can only help you as you discover ways to be successful in your library adventures. Your librarian will keep you up to date on new releases, new books in the library as well as children’s events. They will also be able to provide you with a lot of information about your specific library.
I hope this helps you in your library time. If you have yet to venture out, try it! Let me know how it goes!
Here’s a link to a preschool reading list: Click here