What to do if you may not check out books.

Routine Name



If you forget

your books...

Students that are unable to check out books for a particular week let me know the reason (books not returned, etc.) when shelf markers are being passed out. They have three options: (1) read an unfinished library book that they want to renew/keep, (2) choose a book from the "To Be Shelved" cart, or (3) choose a magazine. They must remain at their table during check out time. If you don't have a shelf marker, then you shouldn't be roaming the library!
(Tiffany Whitehead)

Students who forget their books sit at tables near our magazine center and read magazines while their classmates check out. We also have paperback books in a basket for them to choose from. Sometimes a student is without their library book(s) for several weeks, despite phone calls, emails, notes home, etc. In cases like this, sometimes teachers have students bring classwork to the library to do while their classmates check out. I do not allow teachers to assign "punishment" writing to students for not having library books though. This is sometimes a difficult thing for teachers to understand. :\This year, in lieu of paying, for those students whose parent just can't or won't pay for a lost book, I think I will have them do jobs in the library to "work it off." I just can't stand a kid not getting a book week after week after week b/c their parents are struggling just to pay the bills. We can do better than that, I hope.
(Jamie Camp)

Write a letter to your family

I currently use the methods above, but during my 2nd year, I tried something new. I had kids write letters to their family explaining why they did not bring their library books. This letter had to be signed and returned by the next library visit. This was not effective at my school, but it might work for you.

Obtain a sheet of lined paper and a pencil, then
  • Sit at table 1.
  • Begin writing a letter to your family explaining why you are not allowed to check out a book.
  • Reread your letter and correct any errors.
Return this letter, signed by an adult family member, and return your library books and/or pay your library fines before the next library class.
(Keisa Williams)

Magazine Time!

At my school, the only times students can't check out books are if they forget all their books or if they have a Playaway overdue. This system really works; I haven't lost a single Playaway. The students know they cost between $30.00-$60.00 so understand how serious it is if they are misplaced. So if kids can't check out books, they can sit and read magazines. We have them in baskets on the tables and on a coffee table in between two oversized, comfy chairs. Students are encouraged to return their books the next morning to get new books, and they do! The mornings are a very busy time for us as kids are coming in to return their books to get new books. All the kids know, as I tell them often, that I myself have run up some very large fines, my dog has eaten two books, and I don't treat overdues as any big deal. Last year, we had 22 kids out of 600 who didn't return books by the end of the year, and that is just a very low number for us. (Catherine Trinkle)

Forgot your books?

My students may also look at a magazine, provided it does not become a distraction for other students, or choose a book from the "To Be Shelved" cart. I also have some books that may not be checked out that are popular: I Spy Books, Ann Geddes picture books with babies, and a make a face flip book.

I'm Through, What Do I Do?

Blog post on The Teaching Palette: Perfecting the Art of Education.

Jigsaw Puzzles

My students enjoy putting together jigsaw puzzles. I like to use puzzles that go with whatever theme I have going on at the library or are book-related (Dr. Seuss characters, Where's Waldo, Frog and Toad, etc.). I've found that the puzzles with 60-100 pieces seem to work best. I put the puzzle pieces face up on a piece of cardboard from an old desk calendar or desk blotter (that way you can move a partially assembled puzzle if you need to) and I put together a few pieces of the border to get them started. Jigsaw puzzles help students to develop spatial awareness. (Nancy Alibrandi)

Puzzle Pages

Laminate the pages from a puzzle book, or activity pages from magazines, or print some from the internet (e.g. Highlights Printable Hidden pictures). Put them in a basket with some overhead markers (washable). Students can complete the activity and then the pages can be wiped off and reused by another student. Put different activities in the basket each week. (Nancy Alibrandi)
HighlightKids - Printable Hidden Pictures

Library Centers

I set up centers in the library, like the work stations that teachers have in their classrooms (listening center, buddy reading center, pocket chart, for example). It gives the students something educational to do when they can't check out a book, and it makes my library look like a place for learning activities. I've set up a website to provide more info about how I do this: http://librarycenters.blogspot.com/ (Cari Young)

Library Centers website