Recently in the early morning, Isaiah was the first child awake. He wanted me to sit with him on the couch and read some of The Cat in the Hat to me. This was a pretty special moment for me since I have been working on reading with him for more than a year with not really that much progress. That morning, he chose to read and did a great job of it. Somewhere recently, someone mentioned that reading seems to be as much a developmental stage as a subject to teach. This instant change in Isaiah really seems to lend credence to this idea.
Later in the day, we went to the library. I had been telling him for months that if he could read Biscuit, he could get his own library card. He and I curled up in a chair right there in the children’s section of the library, and he read it to me (with just a little help from me). Isaiah was nervous at home earlier in the day thinking he couldn’t do this so we actually looked at the first few pages with Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature so that he could “practice” ahead of time.
After his successful reading, Isaiah selected his first library books, and we signed up for his card.
Having his own books at home as been amazing. Three Biscuit books and an Elephant and Piggie book have been read to everyone who is willing to listen over and over again. My little boy is ready to take off with his reading! (By the way, Elephant and Piggie books are short, funny, and rather entertaining. If I have to listen to something over and over again, it’s not a bad pick.)
You might wonder why in the world reading Biscuit is the measure for getting a library card so here’s my reasoning. Once a child can read Biscuit, there are plenty of early reader books for them to choose from when selecting new books. Before Biscuit, there really aren’t too many choices at the library – at least for those of us who teach phonetically.
Why should your child have a library card?
- It gets them more excited about reading because they check out “their own” books.
- Easy reader books are so short that it is great to be able to keep getting new ones.
- You can have 10 more holds as a family. At least at our library, each card can only have 10 holds at a time. Amazingly, sometimes we have used all 30 holds in the past. Now we have 40.
- If your library has limits on the number of books you can check out, obviously another card allows you more.
Here are a few tips if you want to get cards for your children.
- Our library makes the parent sign that they are financially responsible for anything a child checks out (and yet, the library is not supposed to tell parents what a child checks out – that’s sheer craziness, but that’s the world we live in).
- All of our library cards are linked to my email address and have the same pin for easy log-in access.
- The cards are all stored in my wallet so that they don’t get lost, and I actually have every card with me. As long as I have the right cards, I can pick up anyone’s holds even if the child isn’t with me at the library (yes, I do occasionally get to go somewhere without the kids).
I remember that first time I let my eldest two sign up for their library cards. The excitement and cheering from them over such a simple thing was just thrilling for me. You would have thought we had bought some really expensive toy or told them we were going on a trip to an exotic location. Back then, we needed more than just my card to check out enough books. They got their library cards, checked out a stack of books, and sat at home reading for almost 4 hours straight.
When do you let your children get their own library cards?