I’m feeling like this might make some of you gasp, but… I barely ever took my daughter to the library before she turned 2. We have so many board books at home and she never tired of them, so we just read them over and over and over again. When her second birthday drew near and I contemplated books I could buy for birthday presents, though, I suddenly realized that (earth to Haley!) we could move on to somewhat more complex picture books.
And so, for the past 5 months we’ve been reading ever so many marvelous picture books that have been checked out from our local library (pictured at the top of this post – and yes, we do have an attached coffee shop!). We own quite a few picture books, of course, but not enough! My daughter enjoys variety now, and I’m getting such a kick out of making my way through various kidlit lists that I’ve been holding on to for so long. I will always be a book-buyer, but I do love the public library system because it gives us access to so many more books that we’ll ever be able to purchase.
The only downside of exploring the library with a toddler is, well, exploring the library with a toddler. You all know this already, but it is not easy to browse through rows and rows of books with a 2-year-old in tow! Thankfully, I’ve found one key trick that make our library visits more pleasant: online requesting. My library, like all libraries I’m sure, lets you request books online. The kind librarians pluck the titles off the shelves for you and place it on the hold rack until you pick it up. It’s like magic! When we go to the library, instead of dragging my energetic daughter around and asking her to be patient while Mommy finds all of her books, we happily retrieve our books at the front and then leisurely browse or play or whatnot.
Since I now request most of my daughter’s books online, I’ve also started using an Amazon wish list to keep track of books I want to request at the library. Whenever I come across a book that I think she might like, I add it to my (hidden) Amazon list. Then when it comes time to check out a new bunch of books, I just hop on the computer and bounce between my Amazon list and our library’s online catalog. That’s not to say that we don’t have fun discovering new books just by browsing at the library, but I love how this method makes it so easy to read our way through booklists and recommendations from friends.
One last note: I’ve been using our state’s interlibrary loan program for the past few months and if you’ve never thought to use ILL for picture books, let me encourage you to give it a try! I’ve (happily) found that many of the theological kidlit titles I’m interested in reviewing are available from other libraries in the state when they’re not at our local branch.
What about you? How do you and your children make the best use of your library?