How to Be Brave: Book Checkout Limits and Sacred Cows

Mrs. J in the Library

Collette J., or Mrs. J in the Library, is a full-time elementary teacher-librarian, blogger, and mama from Pennsylvania. She loves technology, books in any format, makerspaces, and all things Harry Potter. The information and opinions represented here are my own and are not the views and opinions of any business or organization.

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2 Responses

  1. Franny Parrish says:

    Sacred cows are certainly worth putting on the barbecue. I am at a school that has over 714 students and I restrict K to one book, 1st to one book, 2-5 get 2 books and if they are doing a project I add a 3rd book. Until we started doing Accelerated Reader I noticed every week, and even every two weeks, that students were not even finishing the books they had. Ten books? That would have to be some really devoted readers in a week or two weeks time. They check books out often just because it looks good to them or their friends, but the reality is they can not even read it. My policy and that of many of my fellow workers, is to keep an open door policy. If they finish their 1-2 books in less than a week, they are welcome to return them and get more books. Very few do this, only the real readers.

    • Mrs. J in the Library says:

      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this topic, though it is worth noting that not every child chooses to check out 5 books at my library. Some do the first week, then realize they only read 3 by the next library class, so they choose to get 3 from then on. Others might stick with 2 by choice or with parent input. Either way, it gives more choice and autonomy to the child to determine their own learning and interests…something I always strive to encourage.

      For chapter books, it’s true that they generally take longer to finish, and perhaps students aren’t finishing them. As a librarian, though, it’s not my job (or my business) to make sure the books get read entirely. My job is to connect students with books and resources to help them become lifelong learners. And for some students, that means they need to try a bunch of books that they don’t like before finding one they do.

      Limiting young children to only 1 or 2 picture books (which can be read aloud in under 15 minutes) COULD actually limit their reading opportunities, though. That’s where 10 books really becomes powerful. Allowing open library (if you’re lucky enough to have a schedule that allows it) is great, however, it’s still dependent on a teachers’ willingness to let them visit the library on a non-class day. The students could potentially be missing out on opportunities to read more books simply because their teacher’s schedule is too full. That doesn’t seem right to me, so thus I allow up to 5 books at a time and my colleague allows up to 10. As our schedules get tighter and tighter with less time for administrative tasks, this is one way we are adapting and coping. We allow more checkouts, but no “in-between” visits unless a students is absent or forgot their books on their scheduled library day. So far it’s worked well.

      Of course I don’t expect all students to be reading all their books themselves, especially in kindergarten. My hope is that they will ask a parent to read to them if they can’t read it themselves, regardless of their grade level.

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