library book

Ferndale Public Library

This is our swanky local library. We’re big fans.

As I ramp back up into a normal posting schedule (my apologies again), I thought that, rather than write my normal once-a-week, 3,000 word ode to a 32-page picture book, I’d give you guys a week-long look at what titles caught the eye of my daughter and I during our semi-weekly trip to our local library. (We don’t normally go weekly – mostly because you can keep the books for three weeks and we like to re-read titles we like to death.)

We took out FIVE books from the library on Friday, so, from Monday to Friday, I’ll share a brief profile of one book a day to give you a taste what attracted our attention in the children’s section last week.

I just want to give other parents an idea of what a trip to the library is like for our family and, in return, I’d love, LOVE to hear about your family’s library rituals and routines. How many books do you take out at a time? (I always feel like we might be taking out too many.) Do you browse for books with your kid? Do you make decisions together or do you let them go completely alone? Do you sometimes veto their book choices? Do your kids ever ask the librarian for suggestions? I’d love to know – if only so I can measure our own rituals against yours and then decide whether your routine makes me feel inferior, superior, or just right.

To give you some fodder to start judging me, here’s what our normal trip to the library looks like:

Just kidding – my daughter is marginally quieter than the Cookie Monster at the library. When we’re not looking for cookies, we generally take out 5 to 6 books every time we hit the library and maybe a DVD for the weekend. (We usually go to the library on Friday after school.) We start in the children’s section and my daughter and I browse around a bit and pick out 2 to 3 books together. I usually gravitate to the “new materials” shelves, while my daughter likes to browse the librarian’s picks (i.e. the titles that they display on the tops of shelves) and she’ll also check in on some of her favorite authors. (She always does a quick walk-by of the shelves where they keep the Melanie Watt, Lane Smith, Mo Willems, and David Wieser books.)

For those first 2 to 3 books, we make our decisions together. We look around together, we talk about what we see, and we come to an agreement on our first batch. (During this period, I usually end up reading her one short book at the kids’ tables, but we don’t do a lot of actual out-loud reading at the library.)

My daughter then asks to play with the computers for a while – usually a Reader Rabbit, Dora, Arthur, or I Spy game. While she does that, I browse by myself, picking out 2 to 4 more books to present for her majesty’s approval. After some computer time, she says “yay” or “nay” to my books – she always cuts a few of my picks, so I always pick too many – and normally does one last circuit to make sure she hasn’t missed anything good. We then might check the DVD shelf to see if there’s a movie we want to watch on the weekend. (This usually involves me saying “no” to many, many DVDs until we come to a begrudging compromise.)

Our book picks vary from week to week. There’s usually one or two old established favorites, something from the new release shelf, an easy reader, and, now that’s she’s older, maybe a chapter book. OH, and there’s at least one terrible, terrible media-tie in book – a reader or picture book based on a movie or TV show that she insists on picking out herself and that I can hardly ever veto. (Can someone please start a Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of a good Scooby Doo book? PLEASE?)

And that’s what our library trips normally look like. We check out our books, my daughter makes me walk through the anti-theft scanners first because she’s crazy paranoid about the alarm going off, and we go home with a ton of really, really great books. It’s easily one of my favorite rituals we have.

So, if you’re interested (totally understand if you’re not), check back during the work week and see what kinds of books we ended up with last week. It’s a pretty diverse mix, which should definitely give you a sense of what we’re currently reading. Hope this isn’t a pointless exercise and, most of all, hope you enjoy it.


Richard Scarry

Do NOT anger the car trip gods with improper backseat reading...

Building off my last feature about essential reads for car trips, here are ten written-in-stone, have-to-be-followed commandments, rules, and good pieces of advice for anyone gathering books for their children to read on an upcoming road trip.

1. You should NOT bring any book that you cannot easily replace. Leave any rare or expensive books or books with heartfelt family inscriptions at home.

2. You must all leave dustjackets at home. Honestly. They don’t protect the books. They just give you something else to rip or lose.

3. You should expect that there is a good chance that any book you bring will be torn, colored upon, stained, smudged, or lightly chewed. This is an inevitability, so there’s no reason to get upset at your kid about it. It’s just going to happen.

4. You must bring some books that are small enough to fit inside a purse or daypack, so that you can bring some reading material into restaurants or rest stops to entertain your kid. Trust me. There will be moments where you just need your child to be preoccupied for a few minutes to give yourself a breather and let you order your Cracker Barrel biscuits and gravy in peace and, if the Berenstain Bears can help you reach that goal, so be it.

5. You must make sure that your child understands that you are bringing books for THEM to read and look at THEMSELVES. Do NOT let them suffer under the illusion that YOU will be reading the books. They need to be content to browse through the books on their own and, besides, reading in the car will totally make you puke.

Richard Scarry

Thou shalt obey the laws of the ideal mobile library...

6. If your child is obsessed with one book in particular and demands that you bring it with you, if you can, buy a secret back-up copy. Stuff happens on the road. [read the rest of the post…]