Illustration of "Brianna's Book Stop" by Jeffrey Duckworth / Book Cover for WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (on the bookmobile) by Christian Slade

Monday, June 3, 2013

Keep Reading Fun Day: Why We Love the Library (and How I Figured Out How to Make Our Library Trips Awesome!)

Yay! It's another Monday/ "Keep Reading Fun Day"! And today I can't wait to write about one of the places in the world that does the most to keep reading fun... the library!

One of the Seattle Public Library's
awesome new options for library cards!
Right now, I am lucky enough to live within a few blocks of the library I went to when I was a child. I remember how excited I was when I was old enough to sign up for my first library card. And I remember the book I checked out week after week. (How I loved "The Shy Little Girl"!)

Now I take my children to the library I used to go to as a five-year-old. It is a pleasure to see them get excited by the treasure trove of books they can check out there. What an incredible resource!

But, now that I am "Mommy," our trips to the library started to come with their own set  of challenges.

While we were finding some good books by browsing the shelves, this method could sometimes take too long. Way too long. When we took too long, my little guy would have a meltdown, and everyone would get frustrated. (Especially me, who envisioned the beautiful,  peaceful library trips I sooooo loved as a child.)

And then there were the times I got myself I got myself organized enough to list some books we were hoping to find. Sometimes these times got even more frustrating. We were all excited to find those books, but, more often than not, they were already checked out. (My friend explained that our local library is one of the busiest in the whole system. Which is wonderful! Yay, Seattle readers! I just had to figure out how to get us the books we wanted.)

Finally I figured it out! And our library trips have been amazing ever since! The solution is probably obvious to you, but it took a while for this sleep deprived mommy to figure it out...

We started putting books on hold!

I know, I know. It's not rocket science but it has made a dramatic difference in our family. We are able to take advantage of the Seattle Public Library's awesome online resources.

Now, whenever we think of a title or an author or a category we're interested in, we head to the library's online catalog and do some pre-library-trip searching. This searching is so much fun as we have the entire city's library books at our disposal.

We get to think about which titles sound the most intriguing or the most helpful. And then we put them on hold. Often we get an email that these are ready for pick up quite quickly, but even when we have to wait a bit, we know we will be able to read the books we are waiting for soon.

It is such fun to go to the library and pick up an awesome stack of books (both print books and audio books) from the hold shelf. My oldest is always super-excited to make a trip to the library to pick up the books he has chosen.

And now that we have happily arrived at the library to pick up a whole pile of wonderful books, it is a pleasure do some relaxed browsing together and pick out several more books to add to the pile. My oldest with his sharp eyes always manages to spot an extra construction book or two. Or more books by a favorite author or from a favorite series. And my youngest loves to pick out fun board books from the library's collection for us to read together.

I even get to pick out some wonderful books for myself. Yay! (Super-important for me, the mom who as a young teen wanted to get my driver's licence so I could drive to the library. :o) )

Yep! Now our library trips are awesome! And they definitely help keep reading fun for our family!

So how do you use the library? What kind of library visits do you find works best with kids? How about when you're visiting the library on your own?


  1. Brilliant post! I often put books on hold for myself, especially when I'm studying a particular picture book story structure, but I've never had the kids reserve books in advance. I will have to give that a try, though I must confess we all LOVE spending probably what others would consider WAY TOO MUCH time in the library. That's one of the joys of summer I'm especially looking forward to.

  2. Thanks so much, Laura! So great that you put books on hold to study picture book structure! (I should do that too!) And I love spending way too much time at the library too. And my older guy definitely enjoys hanging out there for long periods of time. But when my older guy and I want to search for books with an active younger brother accompanying us, it can be helpful to keep our visits a bit more focused. Enjoy your summer library trips! Such a wonderful summer treat!

  3. Fabulous, Brianna.
    Libraries were a huge part of my growing up years, but have become less so. What happened to me and my family is a reflection of why libraries in the U.S.A. struggle to remain relevant, and why they need to re-invent themselves, in a way. Not only has the cost of books come down, (relative to wages) but so much reference material is at our fingertips, electronically, without leaving the house.

    I still get that great-library-feeling when I step into a library. Now, DS works in one of the greatest. I must have raised him right.

  4. Hi Mirka-- Interesting to hear you talk about the relevance of libraries. I have read some articles recently about this topic. For us, while we do love buying books at bookstores, we can explore a huge number of books at the library. Many more than we would ever be able to buy in one visit to a bookstore. Plus, now that we're adding in audio books too, it's a great deal. :o) Isn't that "great-library-feeling" awesome? And so cool that you DS works in one of the greatest! Definitely sounds like you raised him right!

  5. Brianna--I love requesting PBs so they are ready and waiting. Whenever I read a blog or article that recommends a specific title, I go straight to my library's online catalogue and put it in my queue. So convenient! We actually started doing this years ago when my kids were toddlers after one particularly hairy trip to the library, where books were grabbed at random. That night, I picked the top two off the pile. The first was about the death of a parent and the next was about the dead of a grandparent. Beautiful stories but not exactly what we needed for bedtime reading! Kids were probably wondering why I was in tears and couldn’t seem to finish a book :)

    1. Oh my! Love this story, Lori! (Even though I'm sure it was not fun at the time. :o) ) I so know about hairy trips to the library! Ever since I started taking two to the library at once things got a whole lot more challenging. And (like you) requesting our PBs in advance has definitely helped the quality of our book selections. Thanks for stopping by!