The Library Run

7 01 2010

In our family, a trip to the library is like Christmas coming every three weeks.

I have three children under eight, and we’ve been going to the library together for 8 years now (if you count from when my eldest was born and ignore the fact that the others hadn’t yet been thunk of) and we have the Library Run* down to a fine art.

We all walk in through the door together, with me lugging three bags of books. I say ‘walk’ but it’s more of a step heaaave step heaaave gait and must be fairly amusing to watch. But I’ve never noticed anyone watching because part of the step heaaave technique is to focus on the ground ahead of me – if I lose focus then my arms may very well be ripped out at the armpits, so I have to keep moving. (Just like an elephant, my daughter once pointed out. How apt.)

Anyway, we make it in through the door with our three bulging bags of books and all three of my offspring begin grabbing books and feeding them in through the returns chute at the front desk.

There is kudos in the number of books you get to feed into the chute (the more the better) and also in the choice of books you get to feed in (some titles earn more kudos than others). Someone will always stop mid-feed to wail that some book or other should have been their book to feed in … and then they realise that their feed-count is dropping and they jump back in.

The moment the last book disappears into the chute (the last book also being a coveted item, kind of like putting in the last puzzle piece), the three of them power walk to the children’s section. They do not run, because they have been briefed in the car several times on the way to the library about how We Do Not Run In The Library.

I then browse for books for us all, while they go  between the shelves and me, putting books for borrowing into my bag. It’s surprising how suitable the books are (for age, reading level and maturity level). I used to vet them as they went in, but now I just keep a vague count of how many are going in. (My son at age 4 used to select his books from the returns trolley and re-borrow the 8 books he had just returned through the chute.)

On Monday my son (now 6) put his first Aussie Nibbles in the bag. So I added several more. As soon as I had finished at the ‘borrowing’ counter, he retrieved it from the bags (no mean feat, among 31 other books) and started reading it as we step heaaaved back to the car. In fact I had to hold the back of his shirt as well as the 3 book bags because he was so engrossed I was worried he would wander onto the road. He read it all the way home. And then he came to me with a huge smile and said ‘it’s got chapters. But I can read it all myself! It’s a great book, Mum. You should read it.’ And fished another Aussie Nibbles from the pile and curled up on the couch.

His first chapter book selection

Libraries. Rock.

*This is the Library Run routine. On other days we have Library Visits which pretty much start off in exactly the same way as a Library Run, but after the power walk to the children’s section everyone gets to take their time to sit and read. The Visit is far preferable, but sometimes you’ve just gotta get in and out.

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