4 Easy Tricks for Hitting the Library Jackpot

two girls reading books together

It’s National Library Week. We should celebrate with cake, a parade, and seven days of NOTHING but reading. Ah, sweet bliss.

As a kid and then as a young adult, I visited the library with the same ardor as Romeo did Juliette. I love everything about the library — the thrill of the hunt, the possibility (or disappointment) each book holds, and even the papery smell.

I also prize its orderliness, even more so now that I no longer visit my local branch alone but with my kids in tow. I may turn my house upside down in search of my keys, but at the library the Sandra Boyntons are just where they should be. It soothes me.

In the chaos that ensues once my little people and I are scanning the shelves (am I the only one who leaves the library sweating from a cardio high?), I've developed a much-needed radar for books best left on the shelves.

Here are a few basic tips to help make those snap decisions:

1. DO judge a book by its cover.
The outside of a book is more telling than ever as illustrators attempt to make their work stand out from the crowd. Are the images age appropriate? How about the color scheme? Is it one you’d use to decorate your toddler’s bedroom or one you’d use for your own? The cover provides valuable clues about what’s inside.

2. Skip to the end.
You often flip through a book’s first few pages, but reading the conclusion is more telling. Is the resolution and the lesson it teaches one you’re comfortable with?

3. Check for wordiness.
Lengthy swaths of text are an easy problem to spot. Not only do your kids wander away before you’re finished reading, you’ll tend to do the same. You don’t have time or energy to tackle All. The. Words. Instead, flip the pages looking for a good visual balance between illustrations and text. Save the text-heavy books for when your kids are older (and you’re less sleep deprived!).

4. Make a reservation.
Most larger libraries have apps or online options for reserving titles. You’ll receive an email once the books you’ve selected are ready for pick-up. Most libraries have a designated area where reserved books are kept so you simply have to breeze in and snag the ones with your name on them. Your local librarian is an awesome resource if you have questions on how to set up this service.

Happy National Library Week, friends! Now who’s ready for cake?

Have a tip to add to this list? Share it in the comments!

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