Guiding kids at the library

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  • AFthfulJrney

    My 9 year old daughter has been reading independently for about a year now. Aside from the list of books I’ve chosen for her to read for school, she really doesn’t choose books as a leisure activity. I’m trying to change the atmosphere in our home by surrounding my kids with quality books and limiting their screen time during the week. I’m also trying to be more intentional with my reading…instead of saving it for in the evening once they are asleep, reading during the day so they can actually see me reading. I don’t want to force reading on her, or any of my children. I want it to be a natural love for them. Something they want to do…for fun!

    She LOVES the library…all my children do…but when I tell them to decide on which books they want to check out before we leave, she is still wanting to check out picture books. She’ll bring me a huge stack to check out. How do I steer her in the direction of the chapter books without making it seem forced? With summer approaching and our scheduling lightening up a bit, she will have plenty of time to read and I always take huge advantage of the library in the summer. What are some suggestions you guys can give me to help guide her, not force her? I would just check a few out myself for her to read, but she loves looking at books and checking them out herself. I want to help her still be able to do this, just with better choices! 🙂


    I get it.  My four children also love our public library, but I tend to avoid going because honestly, most of the living books you see on lists are not there.  And then, my children like picture books that are sometimes such a quick read and not very challenging that I hate to borrow them and bring them home.  On the other hand, I want my children to enjoy the library, and they find joy in picking their own books.

    I can check out 20 books, so as the mother, I usually pick 10, and I usually get really good quality picture books (such as biographies by Diane Stanley and the D’Aulaires) that I can put in our library book basket in the living room.  When they are finished reading their own selections, they invariably pick up the books I’ve chosen.

    What are your daughter’s interests?  Really, there are some lovely picture books, and if I were in your shoes, I would just try to steer her to the best ones.  As an adult, I love books illustrated by Tasha Tudor and Jessie Wilcox Smith.  Or for a shorter chapter book, you might read the first chapter of an Elizabeth Yates book (Mountain Born, Carolina’s Courage, and more) to her, and see if she takes off from there.  My dd7 read the Betsy Tacy series and books by Emma Brock (some are short with color illustrations if you can find them) and enjoyed them.  I think the Betsy Tacy books had a few black and white pictures.  She also reads All of a Kind Family and the books in that series over and over again.

    So, I usually sit at a table in the library and my children bring their selections to me.  They know that I have veto power, but usually, they are allowed to check out what they have picked, which is only 2-3 books per child.

    Another idea would be to get your daughter to look with you on the computer at home for a chapter book that you can borrow from the library.  Together, you can put the book on hold and pick it up next time you go.  A little special quality time at home picking the book might make the difference.

    At home, I am in charge of buying books, so I don’t mind a little Fancy Nancy or Batman from the library.  But I admire your desire to steer her in the right direction.  I grew up going to the library every week in the summer and I read so much twaddle, because I didn’t have much direction.  I guess what I am saying is, just be careful.  Your relationship with your children is so important, so just be patient as she feels her way towards really good books!



    I don’t think I’d try to force chapter books. As long as you’re trying to have quality, living picture books around, I’d let her read those.

    As for encouraging her to pick a chapter book on her own, she might just be intimidated by it – what if she starts a book and doesn’t like it?

    So, perhaps you can start listening to a book, or start reading a chapter book aloud – and if it’s one she really likes, “accidentally” run out of time and allow her to read the day’s chapter on her own….and then a few days later, same thing. In this way, she’ll already be into the story, but you’re not forcing her to read the whole book. An d, if she doesn’t want to read the chapter on her own, then she’ll probably be glad to wait for you to have time to read aloud again.

    I think at some point, you’ll find a book and she’ll be hooked. For my 8yodd, it was the Louis Sachar Sideways School books. And then the Ramona books. And now Betsy Tacy (finally! I’ve been telling her about them for a whole year!).

    One more thing – be sure it’s not a vision issue. Picture books are easy on the eyes, with one line of text. It might be that she feels she’s getting lost because of all the text on a page.

    And be sure there’s no dyslexia-type trouble. My dd10 is dyslexic – and she just told me that reading chapter books is hard because her eyes skip to the next page when she doesn’t want them to. So now I need to go find out about that!


    I don’t see anything wrong with a 9yo reading picture books!  There are some great ones out there, with much better writing than many of the chapter books out there!

    My DD is the same age, and it seems all of my DC were intimidated by chapter books at that age.  I try to find a fairly simple book for her to read, like an early reader.  Right now she’s reading a Stepping Stones version of Robin Hood.  Clyde Robert Bulla has some great early chapter books as well, and we co-read a couple of these early this year.  Currently, she reads a chapter or two each day, with each chapter being a few pages long.  She’s also working through a Children’s Bible.   The rest of her reading time, I pretty much leave up to her (within reason of course).  😉


    Thanks everyone for the encouragement and book recommendations. I went to the library today and picked up a stack of Diane Stanley books for her to start reading through. These look great. I may end up purchasing some for our personal library!


    Also, I find I’m happier with their choices if we look together in the easy nonfiction section. Especially because there are great picture books here that are also wonderful living books too. I agree with the lack of great living books in the easy fiction and chapter book section. T
    There are also many audio picture book selections like little house in the big woods that is a treat narrated

    Also, I visited a church just today with a fabulous lending library. Ask around in each church in your towns.
    Hope this helps! Martha

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