Celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month

Motivate your class to acquire and utilize a library card all year long.

By Dawn Dodson


library book slip

Think back to your childhood. Can you remember when you received your first personally-owned library card? How about the feeling of independence when you were finally able to check out books all by yourself—using that first library card? Did you keep it in a special place in your wallet or book bag? For some, this is a vivid memory, and as a language arts teacher, I witness such moments each year in the lives of the young readers in my classroom. That said, September is nationally recognized as Library Card Sign-Up Month. Libraries around the country are encouraged to participate in the month-long recognition with activities and local community incentives for acquiring a library card. In that same spirit, here are a few ways ideas to inspire your scholars to take part in the celebration.

Acquiring a Library Card

In anticipation of the beginning of the new school year, families everywhere begin gathering the necessary supplies. The American Library Association suggests adding a library card to the school supply list. This is a great way to put many valuable resources in pupils’ possession from the beginning of the school year. Once the year is underway, a representative from the local library may be invited to your class or school in order to acquaint the student body with the resources the library offers. The language arts department in my middle school takes each grade level on a walking field trip to our local library in order to motivate pupils to utilize its assets. At the conclusion of our library tour, with the help of our librarians, classmates divide into partners and complete a scavenger hunt. The hunt allows them to use the available reference to find books and other resources in the various sections of the library. This particular scavenger hunt was so successful that my classes now complete a similar one in our school library.

Additionally, the required paperwork for obtaining a library card is sent home at the beginning of each school year. With parent permission, the paperwork is returned to school and then to the library. The library cards are sent back to our middle school and dispersed. As my own classroom incentive, I allow each kid who either turns in the library card paperwork, or who brings in the card he/she already possesses, to choose a prize from the classroom prize box. Such prizes include book marks, pencils, pens, highlighters, and other similar items.    

Classroom Cardholder Incentives

How do you motivate your class of library cardholders to actually put them to use? Similar to the classroom prize box, I have incentives for those readers who use their library card throughout the school year. Each quarter, my sixth graders are required to complete an independent book project that demonstrates mastery of the content/concepts covered. To help them manage time, there is a date that pupils must bring their independent project books to school in order to have them approved. If they also bring in the book receipt from the library, they choose a prize from the box. As the year progresses I keep track of how many books were checked out of the library, and from which students.  I post a class list on the bulletin board, and we count up the tallies after the last project book approval date. The winner receives a free book and bookmark of his/her choice.

September is Library Card Sign-up Month. Motivating young learners to obtain a library card and make use of it is an important resource for pupils of all ages and grade levels that is beneficial long after the school year ends.

Lesson Ideas:

Let’s Learn Library Language

This is a PowerPoint presentation that introduces and explains sixteen library and literature-related vocabulary words. It is a beneficial presentation for primary and ELL students.

Library Skills Review

The setting of this lesson is a library. Pupils will work together to research and explore online book catalogs as well as discuss plagiarism. This is a great resource for all middle schoolers to experience before conducting their first research project.

Research Project at the Library

Here is a group project that requires pupils to research a topic of their choice utilizing four different resources. Each research session takes place in a library, and the culminating activity is a poster depicting facts and information discovered.

Language Arts Guide

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Dawn Dodson