Teaching Book Care Rules - Activities and Ideas

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One of the most important lessons I teach every year is book care. When I first started as a librarian I did not spend a lot of time teaching book care to my students. I assumed that all kids knew how to take care of their books, but I was sadly mistaken. Many of my students did not have books at home and rarely visited the library outside of school. So I quickly learned just how vital it was that I teach these skills to my students.

My goal became to teach book care in a way that went beyond just repeating the rules over and over again like a broken record. Over time I came up with different ideas and activities that work really well.

Picture Books About Book Care
Picture books to teach library rules and behavior

  • A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell - Little Louie is happy to be telling his story in his own book, except when he realizes that the book is messed up. There are jelly stains and scribbles and all kinds of messiness. This is a fun and interactive way to teach children book care rules.
  • Read It Don't Eat It by Ian Schoenherr - Simple, rhyming book that reviews different book care rules in a fun and engaging way. 
  • Manners with a Library Book by Amanda Doering Tourville - This is a nonfiction book with colorful illustrations.
Demco sells a few different books that work well to teach book care rules as well.
  • Never Let a Ghost Borrow Your Library Book - this is a good choice for second and third graders.
  • The Librarian Gingerbread Man 
Mr. Wiggle's Book and What Happened to Marion's Book are excellent choices as well, however, you may have trouble obtaining a copy. 

There are some other books that I will read at the beginning of school. They are not specifically about book care rules but it is very easy to begin discussing book care rules after reading these books.
Picture books to teach book care and library rules and behavior
  • Duncan the Story Dragon by Amanda Driscoll
  • Miss Smith's Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland
  • Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
  • Stella Louella's Runaway Book by Lisa Campbell Ernst
  • Gingerbread Man Loose at the School by Linda Murray

Lesson Activities and Ideas

  • This activity I use every year. I take a tote bag and fill it with different items that are related to book care rules. Then I have a student come up and pull out one item at a time and have students guess what book care rule the item goes with. Below is a list of some of the items I use.
    • Water bottle (never get your books wet, don't put water bottles inside your bookbag)
    • Stuffed dog (keep pets away from your books)
    • Baby bottle, baby doll or baby item (keep younger brothers and sisters away from your books)
    • Crayons, pencil (do not draw, write or color in your books)
    • Scissors (do not cut the pages of your book)
    • Food wrapper or container (do not read your books while eating) 
Sometimes I will also have two different boxes (book care do's and book care don'ts). After students identify each item they will decide which box the item goes into.
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  • Another variation that I will use is a book care sort. I will use a pocket chart or a magnetic whiteboard and have students sort pictures or short sentences into two different columns. This also works really well as a center activity or for students to do after they check out their books. Sometimes I will give one card to each student and have them group themselves into the two categories. I will also pull this activity out midway through the year as a review, usually after Christmas. This sort is part of my Book Care Activities Lesson Pack.
library skills, school library Book Care Activities
  • Another activity in my Book Care Activities Lesson Pack is a mini book. I love using mini books with my students (even though it can be a pain to get 100 mini books ready for an entire grade level). One advantage of using a mini book is that the students will take them home and show their parents and they will read it together. This also helps to showcase what we're doing in the library.
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  • You can also show students examples of books that have been damaged. We talk about what happened to the book and how to protect our books. You can also show students your "book hospital", supplies that you use to repair books. 
  • I am really excited to use this last lesson with my students next year. It is a book care sort that I just created to use with Google Slides. I have not used Google activities with my younger students yet so I am anxious to start and see how it goes. I plan to do it as a whole-group activity on the SmartBoard to start with. Then as we all get used to using the Chromebooks and Google Classroom I will assign it to them to work on during centers or free time. Below are what the two different slides look like. This activity is part of my new Library Skills for Google Drive - Grades K-2
     Library Skills Google Slides K-2

  • I also have this free Book Care Rules coloring page and bookmarks available in my store. This is a great way to reinforce book care rules all year long.


All of the products in this blog post are available to purchase from my website or my TpT store



Something to think about: I also tell the students that accidents happen. Sometimes a puppy will chew a book up or your sister will spill her milk on your book. When something like this happens, they need to be honest about it. I tell them that we will work something out, and not to be afraid to tell me about it. I know many of my students can not afford to pay for a damaged book and this is a worry for them. This happens more with lost books. In my mind, I would rather the student take responsibility for what happened then to lie about it or hide it. What are your thoughts on this? Drop a comment and me know. I always like to hear opinions and ideas from other librarians.
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