Using the Library with Littles by Kacie of Sense to Save

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Kacie is a blogging friend who writes at Sense to Save. Her kids are about the same ages as mine, so we’ve exchanged many e-mails and questions over the last 5 years! 

Nothing Like Relaxing with a Good Book

Ever have to wrestle a screaming toddler and march said child past a “quiet zone” in the library right out the door, leaving empty-handed? Oh, I might have done that a few times. After some frustrating and stressful trips, I reevaluated how we handle the library at this stage of life.

My children adore books, and I get such a kick out of reading to them. We try to own plenty of quality titles, but as our money and our bookshelves are limited, we use the library as often as we can. I have a few ways of streamlining the library process.

My kids are at an age and temperament where trips to the library might go well, or they might be a disaster. My solution? They don’t go with me very often. When we all go together, I try to already have a stack of books waiting on the hold shelf. I grab those first and then add whichever books strike our fancy as we browse. The kids like to play computer games, do puzzles, or play with the blocks while we browse and read a few stories together. But we’re always ready to jet at a moment’s notice if need be. If I can swing it, I’ll take just my older child and let my daughter have some playtime at home with Daddy. When she gets a little more library-mature, we can do trips together.

More kids books
source: The Greenery Nursery

My library allows me to save booklists in my online account. I use this feature to help keep track of titles we’d like to read together at some point and to quickly place them on hold later. I have many lists–titles just for me, and also titles broken down by age range or source.

I borrowed Honey for a Child’s Heart and added many of their book selections to my online booklist. Of course, my library doesn’t carry all suggested titles. Other book list sources include titles from the Sonlight, Peak With Books, Five in a Row, and My Father’s World homeschool curricula.

A few days ahead of a solo or group library excursion, I’ll look at my list and place 10-15 or so titles on hold.

We’ll add another 15ish titles from shelf-browsing, and we’ll be set for a few weeks. The ones we liked will be read a few times.

I do like wandering the shelves to see what I can find, besides just using the online search catalog. I’ve found many great books this way–ones not on any list but enjoyable just the same.

All of our library books, when not in use, live in a designated bag in a closet that the kids cannot open. I’d rather not pay for lost books, so it’s better for us to just keep them inaccessible until they’re a little older.

My kids have a Shelfari account that I use to keep track of books that we own, and library favorites that we’ll want to read again someday (or eventually buy). I don’t update this  with all of our library titles as that would be too time-consuming, but I did activate a feature on our online library account that keeps track of titles we’ve checked out, so I can look that over if I ever had the urge.

Lastly, I’m trying to take advantage of the library’s online resources. Ours has several:

Freegal, a music download service, which allows me to download (and keep!) three mp3 files per week. For free! I am slowly adding to our music collection this way. I have a weekly reminder set in my Google calendar so I won’t forget. Three tracks per week is 156 per year in my permenant collection — can’t beat that.

Ebooks! I love that I can borrow an ebook without setting foot in the library. My branch’s e-collection is gradually growing. Right now, I’m only spotting some titles that are still a bit advanced for my kids, but their day is coming when I can read titles straight from my Kindle or phone.

Audiobooks are another option we can snag in-person or online, but right now they aren’t into that format. They prefer a live person reading to them.

My library recently added Zinio, a site that lets patrons read magazines online or on their mobile device. My library’s selection only includes titles for adults at the moment.

I love the resources in the library and I hope it helps instill a life-long love of reading.

How do you use the library with your little ones?

Kacie is a 27-year-old mom to a 4-year-old boy just a few months younger than Jessie’s Libbie, and a 2-year-old girl just 3 days older than Jessie’s David. Jessie’s 3rd child came in March, and Kacie’s is coming sometime in late September/early October. She blogs about money at

2 thoughts on “Using the Library with Littles by Kacie of Sense to Save

  1. Atopping over from sense to save! How have I not known about freegal? My word.i’m so excited! Also, the only way I make it thru a trip to the library is by restraining kids in the stroller if necessary and placing all books on hold ahead of time!

    • My librarians must be especially lenient. It probably helps that we go to a tiny branch of the library. Generally my 2-year-old sits to do puzzles and my 4-year-old looks for books. I rarely put books for them on the holdshelves. I just set a limit for the 4yo (3 books or so) for her to pick out for herself and then grab a few that look interesting to me for the little ones!

      I have totally restrained my 2yo in the stroller before, though, especially when he was a tad younger. Just easier not to have to chase him around!

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