So My Daughter Got Her First Ever Library Card Yesterday…

by Tom B. on May 8, 2012

Kids Library Card

"I'm going to go check out Fifty Shades of Grey now!"

What a great way to kick off Children’s Book Week. My daughter came home from the library yesterday literally vibrating with excitement. My wife had taken her there to do research for a school project (on “Giant Japanese Spider Crabs” of all things) and she couldn’t wait to show me something. “Dad, DAD! Look what I got!” And she then proudly – very proudly – held up her very first library card. Not her parents’ library card. HER library card. Her own PERSONAL library card with her very own name on it.

It’d never occurred to me that, as a kindergartener, my daughter was now old enough to get her own library card. She’s always checked out books under my card. But my wife, suddenly realizing that our daughter was old enough, asked her if she wanted to go up to the front desk and get her own card and she INSTANTLY lit up and nodded her head. She even asked my wife to take her picture with her new card before they’d left the library.

Now, in reality, this won’t really change our trips to the library very much. Even though she might check out books under her card, as her parents, we’re still going to be the people ultimately responsible for the books, for driving her to the library, for exercising some veto power in what she can check out and what she can’t. The big change, however, is in the sense of pride and empowerment my daughter now has about having HER OWN library card. To her, the library card is a symbol of independence and maturity. She picked out a special place on her dresser for it and asked if we could get her a wallet for “all my cards now because now I’m going to have a lot of them.” She even asked at dinner last night, “the next time we go to the library…. Can I just go in and you guys wait in the car? I have my own card now.” Granted, that’s not going to happen, but I love that, in her mind, that one little library card has now transported her to such a level of maturity that she thinks she could spend an afternoon browsing the library all by herself while my wife and I twiddle our thumbs in the parking lot. (Hopefully, she’ll remember to crack a window.)

After my daughter received her library card from the front desk, my wife told her that she could check out any two books she wanted. My wife then waited for our child, left to her own devices, to return with a series of cheaply-produced Scooby Doo, Star Wars, or Disney books. A few minutes later, she got a very pleasant surprise. Our daughter chose – on her own – two completely fantastic books to be the inaugural titles for her first library card.

Kids Library Card

Every now and then, my kid has EXCELLENT taste.

The first was The Big Elephant in the Room by Lane Smith, one of our favorite author-illustrators. My daughter has, more than once, called Big Elephant “one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.” (I met Lane Smith last year and told him that my daughter said that. His playful response? “She’s right!”) The second book she picked was the Caldecott-winning picture book The Three Pigs by David Wiesner. (I wrote about Wiesner’s Tuesday back in February and suggested Three Pigs as a readalike here.)

Honestly, I couldn’t be prouder with her choices. If, on her own, she has enough taste and sense of occasion to choose two books of this caliber as her first selections for her very first library card, I almost feel like I can trust her enough at the library to wait in the car while she makes her selections. Fine – THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN… until she’s 30 or 40… but I love that having her own library card has convinced her (and almost convinced me) that she’s getting to be a very big, very independent girl.

If you have a child that’s old enough to get their own library card – even if you’ve been checking out their books on your card for years – trust me, get them their own cards. The experience is totally worth it.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber May 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I remember my first library card. I kept it for many years and think it might still be stashed away in an attic box. I actually carried it in my wallet until graduate school. As an adult it reminded me of that very empowerment you described seeing in your daughter. Thank you for your blog. I grin every time I read it and use it to inspire my 17mo old son’s library.

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Tom B. May 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Thanks so much for your kind words! I WISH I still had my first library card….

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Dianna May 10, 2012 at 8:26 am

Naturally, every library system has different policies. I was completely surprised when our local library issued my son his own card when he was two. After reading your post, I will have to remember to put it in his baby book someday. Even though he will never have that special moment of receiving his first card in the same manner as your daughter, I can only hope that he feels some of the same things whenever he realizes that he has his own card.

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Marie-Anne May 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Wow! That must be sooo cool! I would like to be able to that with my son. Here, the libraries have a program to encourage reading for smal kids… When we get a card for our kid before 1 yo, we get a free book, and some recommendation for child books (also, how to encourage reading, and stuff).
But! my son (3 yo, now) handed by himself his card to the clerk the last we went. He was quite happy about it.

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Missy Potts June 9, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Love the pride on her face. I love when I see kids so excited about reading!

I don’t have children but some of my favorite memories are my family reading me my favorite books over and over when I asked them to before I was old enough to read. Then the excitement when I was able to read and pick out books for myself.

Going to the library was always so exciting, wondering what undiscovered treasure I would find in the shelves there. I have a Kindle now, but still enjoying going to the library sometimes. Love the smell of all those books! :-)

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