Because COVID has kept libraries closed to visitors for months, there is no opportunity to browse, hold and discover books for your kids and yourself.
This was our favorite part of going to the library before COVID!
Before COVID, I was taking my kids to the library 1-2 times per week to pick out a stack of books – short storybooks to read at bedtime, chapter books for them to read on their own, and books and magazines for me as well. Well, unfortunately that disappeared quickly when the world shut down this spring!
But the libraries tried new things – offering online library catalog orders and curbside pickup. We tried this, and enjoyed a few trips to pick up the books, but it just wasn’t the same. I have no idea if my kids will like a book from the cover and a brief description. I want to hold it and look through it. Nonetheless, we did some curbside pickups, and it sort of held us over this summer.
Then we discovered other options for reading like digital books from Amazon, and CloudLibrary (which is free to library cardholders). This gave us books to read, but still, we missed going and picking out books ourselves.
Then just this past month, my friend Ann Wahlstrom, who is a children’s librarian for Ramsey County Libraries, told me about something new and unique that Ramsey County Libraries are offering:
Grab bags are a new way to enjoy books from the library during COVID.
Basically, children’s librarians pick out a bunch of books for your child based on their age and interests, which you then check out and pick up curbside at your local library!
This sounded wonderful so we tried it – and loved it!
I filled out a form on the Ramsey County Library website with my child’s age, how many items we wanted (5, 10 or 15 – we chose 15), and what types of books we wanted. There’s space to put anything you want to share about what your child likes and if they have siblings, etc.
You can also choose a list of titles you can choose on your own, if you don’t want them chosen for you.
Submit your name, which library you want to pick them up from, and the last 4 digits of your active library card, and then allow up to 3 days for processing.
Ours were ready within a couple days. We got an email directly from the children’s librarian. Then we picked them up, and my kids were so excited! It was honestly like Christmas in a way – ok, not EXACTLY like Christmas, but for kids, I think it’s special to have a children’s librarian picking out things JUST for them to enjoy. It’s kind of like Santa surprising them.
My kids really liked the books they received, and it was exactly what we were looking for. There were some fun, whimsical storybooks to read at bedtime, some chapter books, and some graphic novels, which both of my kids enjoy. And the best part is that they received some books they normally wouldn’t have chosen, but they discovered they really enjoyed anyway!
So I give Ramsey County Library 5 stars for this new offering!
Here’s what we loved:
- It’s super easy to get your grab bag – the form is simple and quick to fill out.
- It’s a treat to drive up and get a bunch of items picked out just for you!
- My kids discovered books they normally wouldn’t have picked out but realized they really enjoyed!