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How to Get a Library Card for Your Child (And Why You Should)

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics, researching, and information for library users and librarians.

Get your child a library card today and start reading to them from babyhood onward.

Get your child a library card today and start reading to them from babyhood onward.

Why a Child Needs a Library Card

A child's first library card is special. It opens the door to a world of reading. Studies show that children who use a library, and are read to at home, will do better in school. The library card starts your child off right. Don't wait for library card sign-up month in September. Get one today!


How to Prepare for the First Library Visit

Your first step is to call the local library nearest your home.

  • Ask how old a child needs to be to get their first library card.
  • Find out what identification the parent needs to bring with them.
  • Ask what hours and days the library is open.
  • Ask if you can take books home the first day or have to wait for the card to be issued.

After you have spoken with your local library:

  • Start talking to your child about the upcoming visit to get the library card.
  • Sound excited about going to the library.
  • Explain that there are lots of books in the library, and talk about how much fun it's going to be to bring the books home to read.
  • On the way to the library, tell the child about using their special library voice when they are at the library. Demonstrate it by talking in a hushed manner.

First Trip to the Library

Inside the library, go to the desk closest to the entrance. This is probably the Circulation Desk. There might be a sign that says "Library Cards Issued Here." Fill out the form with the necessary information (name, address, etc.). Sometimes the child has to be able to sign their name on the form or the card. The parent usually has to sign that they will be responsible for what the child borrows. The library card should be free.

To make the occasion seem extra special, bring the camera and take a photo of the child receiving the library card. Tell the child that a good place to keep the library card is in Mommy's (or Daddy's) wallet next to Mommy's library card. Put it there.

Find the children's area of the library and start browsing through the books that fit your child's age range and interests. Many libraries have a Children's Specialist who will gladly show you to the right area and can also find age-appropriate books on topics that interest the child.

If the child gets over-excited, remind him using your hushed voice that "we have to be quiet in the library." Children's areas are usually pretty relaxed, but may be adjacent to study areas for adults and students.

Don't leave the child alone in the children's area of the library. The librarian is not a babysitter and a library is a public place that anyone can enter. Stay with your child and help them find books. Sit in a comfy chair or bench or even on the floor and read a book together.

Once the child has a good selection of books, go together to the area for selecting the parent's books. The child can sit nearby and look at their books while you choose your own. Again, do not let the child wander off or lose track of where he is.

Churchmouse Stories, a favorite book from my childhood.

Churchmouse Stories, a favorite book from my childhood.

After the Library Visit

When you get home, have a special spot designated for keeping the library books. This can be a shelf, a basket under the coffee table or another spot. Show the child that this is where the library books have to stay when they are not being read. Make sure they understand that in two weeks you will go to the library again to take back the books and get new ones.

Take time each day to read the books to the child. Make it a special cuddle time and the child will come to associate books and reading with memories of warmth and love.

© 2017 Virginia Allain


Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on September 28, 2017:

I cannot imagine a life without books! Both my children while growing up were each allowed to take out 5 books from the library. We started them young and today they both are still vivid readers.

Today my partner and I own a publishing house ( 25 years) and many of our books are donated to our local library, including my own novels. We ourselves are still library members and take out books.