Teaching Book Care Rules – Activities and Ideas

One of the most important lessons every year in the library is teaching book care rules. When I first started as a librarian I only taught kindergarten and first grade students about this. 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. And they were never taught to respect books like I was. 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 some different ideas and activities that work really well.

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Teaching Book Care Rules with Picture Books

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story, great for teaching book care rules

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

Simple, rhyming book that reviews different book care rules in a fun and engaging way. 

Manners with a Library Book, great for teaching book care rules

This is a nonfiction book with colorful illustrations. It is a simple book that is about exactly what it says – using manners with library books.

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 
Never Let a Ghost Borrow Your Library Book

This fun story is perfect for second and third graders. It uses secret service agents to teach book care rules.

The Library Gingerbread Man, great for teaching book care rules

The gingerbread man escapes from his home at 398.2 and leads the librarian in a chase throughout the library.

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.

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.

boxes for teaching book care rules

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.

  • 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.

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. 

This last idea is a Google Slides book care sort. It can be done as a whole-group activity on a SmartBoard. Later in the year when students have more experience using Chromebooks they can use it as a review. This activity is part of my new Library Skills for Google Drive – Grades K-2

book care sort examples

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.

freebie for teaching book care rules

Something to think about: I also tell the students that accidents happen. Sometimes a puppy will chew a book or your sister will spill her milk on it. When something like this happens, they need to be honest about it. I tell students that we will work something out. I do not want them to be afraid to tell me about the situation. I know many of my students can not afford to pay for a damaged book and this is a worry for them. 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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