My three kids are really funny when it comes to their school Media Center days. Their book choices always surprise me.
I’m all about giving them choice and autonomy over their picks. But I also think that kids, especially younger kids, can benefit from having a starting point. That’s the reason why the books librarians choose to read to the kids, to display on bookshelves, and to highlight during discussion are so important. It all helps to give children a starting point.
I didn’t think it was that big of a deal until my daughter brought home a book on Chihuahuas—the same exact book three months in a row. My son seemed to unconsciously grab any book from a dog series each week, and he’d bring it home, show me the cover, and then throw it right back into his backpack to return to school the next day.
My youngest, for a while, tended to bring home the very book that the librarian read to the class each week. Look! She’d exclaim. I got the book she read—again!
It seemed time for an intervention.
So each week, on the days that my children are scheduled for a visit to the school library, we run through a series of quick questions at breakfast:
Where is the book that you borrowed last week?
Make sure it’s either already at school or in the backpack.
What did you think of that book?
If they liked it, perhaps encourage a second in the series; if not, explore new options.
What topics do you want to read about this week?
The goal is to leave them with three topics that they can remember, write on an index card, or record in their planner. Consider broad topics like sports, food, jokes, weather, holidays, etc.
How will you make sure you find the right book? Will you search for it yourself or ask for help from the teacher?
I always remind them that librarians and assistants are there to help them and that they are not alone in their quest for the perfect book!
Is this method foolproof and perfect? Not at all. But it’s an easy start for the kids so they understand that they are lucky to have the ability to make book choices and that their choice is important.
The best part? Celebrating their pick at the end of the day — and secretly dancing that we’re not reading about Chihuahuas every week!