Setting up a library routine: How to build reading skills with weekly library visits

Years ago, when I first started presenting to parent groups, I used to be quite surprised by what resonated with people. My biggest take-away was that parents wanted concrete ways to build children’s reading-related skills. They told me to tell them exactly what to do to create family habits that will, over time, set their children up to be strong readers.

That made sense, actually. With family routines in place, everyone knows and internalizes the basic plan, the habit gets established, and important skills are built up week after week. Given that reading is made up of a number of skills that are built up over time and only after lots of reading and talking and other life experiences, families that create strong and regular routines that help build these skills are likely to help their children most.

Why do regular library visits matter?

Today we discuss the Abound Library Routine, a simple way to build children’s Vocabulary & Knowledge Skills, and Awareness & Regulation Skills, too! (For more about the skills children need to become strong readers, read Abound Science documents)

The recipe for the Abound Library Routine

1. Get a large heavy-duty bag (canvas or some strong materials).

2. Make it your official LIBRARY BAG, and use the bag only for this purpose. Make sure everyone knows that it’s the special LIBRARY BAG; if even the bag has special status, you’re already helping children think of the library outing as an important event.

3. One day a week, go with your children to the library and fill up the official LIBRARY BAG with many different kinds of books (fiction, non-fiction).

4. When you get home, put these books in a box or basket that is centrally located in your home. Make this the official LIBRARY BOOK BOX/BASKET, and use it only for that purpose.

Note: while books can and should leave the basket, they should always return to it. You don’t want to be worried about losing library books. Get children to help with this important part of the process. Many children like routines and jobs when they’re young so hopefully this will mean you keep track of the books with ease. Plus, giving your children responsibility for keeping the books together will give them important Awareness & Regulation Skill practice!

5. Every week, change the books so that there is always a new batch available. While surely some will repeat (favorites always do and should), try to mix it up as best you can to expose your children to new ideas and both long/shorter stories, and non-fiction (including biographies and how-to books, etc.)

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