Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ten Tips for Finding Books at the Library

I always wonder how people approach the overwhelming number of books at the library.  The pressure is almost daunting.  Here's a little system I've found that works for me:

1. Judge a book by it's cover.
A number of years ago, I bought The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers.  I bought it for my nephew because the title really caught my eye.  When I opened it up to check it out, I found it was easy to read aloud and a fun story. Of course there may be times you miss out on a great book if you only use this method; but often it helps, especially if you find yourself trying to do a quick scan of books to grab as your toddler wrestles at your leg.
2. Go to the bookstore first.
I always get ideas for books at the bookstore!  I often just take a picture with my phone or  write a few titles down to check out at the library.  I wish I could say that I have a highly efficient way of managing this, but it never seems to work that way.  The reality is that having it in my phone has been the most useful, so I can just pull out my phone when I'm at the library and find what I need.
3. Check out Bestseller and Award-Winner Lists
The New York Times features a picture books and a chapter books bestseller list.  I also check magazines -- Parents magazines specifically features a page for children's books and  is a great place to find music for kids too!  I find there's no losing when you look for the award winners!  In North America you can check out the following:  Newbery, Caldecott, Canadian Library Association, Governor General's Literary Award.
Here's another great link from the University of Calgary for book awards from other countries: Children's Book Awards.  
4. Follow go-to authors.
I mentioned that Beansprout is really enjoying Melanie Watts' Scaredy Squirrel books, so when I saw You're Finally Here by the same author, I knew we had to check it out.  It's usually a safe bet that your child will enjoy another book from a great author!
5. Talk to your librarian.
It seems obvious, but the librarians in the children's section are incredibly helpful!  When we first started with wordless picture books, our librarian was wonderful at helping me find more that we could enjoy.
6. Use the HOLD system.
If your library has a hold system, this is the best way to get your hands on the books that you found from #3.  Everyone wants these books, so I find putting a hold request allows us to get them much more quickly.  This is also a huge time-saver when you don't have time to browse.
7. Ask a friend
I'm always checking out the bookshelves of our friends.  I often talk about with friends about what they are reading, so it's a great idea to ask what they're reading with their children too!  You're sure to get a few great titles!
8. Pick a theme
This takes a little more planning, but even if you're in the library for a quick visit, you can usually find at least one section where books are featured by themes, especially during the holidays!
9. Go to story time
Our story time librarians always have a table of books out when we walk in.  I have grabbed books off of there a number of times.  I've also found that checking out the book the librarian read during story time is not only a great way to revisit the book, but these books are always easy read-alouds!
10. Revisit favorites
There are times when I've gone out and bought a favorite book we read from the library, but that can tend to get expensive.  Checking out the book again on a separate visit to the library makes a favorite-read new again!

Any tips you'd add to the list?  What's your favorite part of going to the library?  (Is it obvious Beansprout is more interested in the toys than the books from the picture above?  He does enjoy sitting down and reading, but the toys are the first thing he goes for!)

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