Owning the Library

When my oldest was a toddler, we never went to the library.  Frankly, I didn’t really see the point: we own tons of board books and picture books that she was very happy to read over and over.  When she turned 2, though, I started getting it.  As much as I wanted to buy every single book we wanted to read, we just couldn’t afford it.  So we started exploring the library’s offerings and reading through all sorts of booklists that I’ve stumbled upon over the years.

Now that she is nearly 5, the tide has definitively turned and now we read more books from the library than ones we own.  Even though I love (LOVE!) owning books and will always be an advocate of doing so, I am oh so grateful for the library.  It expands our reading lives in such a rich way… and also provides a fun outing on ridiculously cold winter days.

However.  One of the big problems with library books is that after a few weeks, you have to take the books back.  If you’re a believer in the goodness and power of re-reading (as I am), this presents a problem because if you’re going to re-read a book you or your child has to remember to check it out again at some point in the future.  But when there are so many books yet to be discovered, sometimes it’s hard to reach for the known, beloved books instead of the shiny new one on the shelf, you know?

About a year ago I set out to at least partially solve this problem.  I wanted a way to remind us of our favorite books, a way to inspire us to check them out repeatedly, and a way to allow my kids to be part of that process.  Because my daughter wasn’t reading yet, I knew I had to do something other than simply print out a list of titles.  So instead, I spent a couple of naptimes finding book cover images to copy and paste into a word document.  Printed on cardstock at the closest copy shop and placed in plastic page protectors and voila:

Library Catalog

Our very own personalized, visual library catalog that makes us feel like library books are truly ours!  My daughter can browse through it anytime; it’s my job to place online holds on the books she requests so they’re ready for us to pick up in a few days.  (She places post-it notes on top of the ones she wants.)  We add new books to our list of favorites all the time, so every few months I create a new page to add to our binder.  This system has worked marvelously for us and now in every backpack-full of library books we nearly always have a handful of old favorites.  The more we re-read our favorites the more treasured they become and the more we want to keep checking them out, so I’m calling this project a definite success.

Library Catalog 2


19 thoughts on “Owning the Library

  1. Hello! I am fairly new to this blog but love it! How have you decided which books to include in the binder “picture list?”

    • Hi Kendra! I don’t have any hard and fast rules of which books make the cut. It’s just a highly subjective combination of what my daughter loves, what I love, and what I think is worthy of being re-read over time. And I don’t always get it perfectly right, either – there are a number of books I’ve included that make me scratch my head now. 🙂

  2. Haley, I think this is such a wonderful idea! And even when your children are older, what a keepsake this will be to have of your favorite books that you read with them! I can imagine my boys flipping through this and ordering off of it like a menu at a restaurant as we make our library list! Have you ever thought about including pictures of the ones you already own (as sort of a home library catalog, too).

    • Thanks, Jen! Yes, I’ve thought about doing the same for the books we own, mostly because there are so many great ones that we similarly tend to forget about, but haven’t done it yet…

  3. Haley, once again a fabulous idea. I will so have to do this whilst I’m on mat leave.
    We have a library near by, but haven’t gone as often as we should. I’m a teacher and have purchased so many books that I feel like I alread have a library at home. However, I agree that the possibilities in a library are endless and so worth the imagination and sense of awe & wonder it can build in a child. LIbrary, here we come! 🙂

  4. I second Graham’s request. Can you e-mail me your docs so I can peruse them before I reserve our next batch of books?

  5. Pingback: WWRW: U.S. History Literature for kids, plus E, F, G picture books - California to Korea | and back again...

  6. That is a really neat idea! We used to buy every book that piqued our interest until we started running out of money and room. We now visit our library frequently too!

  7. Pingback: Inspiring Ideas from Around the Blogosphere: (# 1) | Small Home Comforts

  8. This is so serendipitous for me. My oldest is 6 and I have literally been creating a “Books” binder for this very purpose. And now I’m having a “duh!” Moment!!! I was just LISTING the books we love. The photo part of it is such a simple, but brilliant idea. If you decide to share docs with your readers, I would love a copy. It would also be superb to be able to use your template since you clearly came up with something that works. If not, no worries! I’m thrilled with the idea!! Thanks!

  9. I too had similar strategy but found myself rethinking it when my daughter’s favourite book disappeared from the library. Then when I went to find our own copy it was out of print and selling used for $50! Now if we take it out of the library more than two or three times I strongly consider buying it.

  10. Do you have a post for some of your favorites you recommend? Sometimes it is hard to find good ones at the library when you’re just grabbing new ones before your littles run off in different directions!:) thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s