How to Teach Kids to Care for Books

The question on my mind lately is how can I teach my kids to care for books?

I love books, I love to read, collect and reference them. Before I had kids I got very upset with friends who left “dog ears” on the books I lent them. When I had my first baby I was very excited about introducing him to these lovely board books, we paged the books often and enjoyed them.

Then my 2nd arrived. Once old enough he too loved books, a little “too much”, he treats them rough and many books are now in a bad state or torn beyond repair.

I really don’t want to pack the books on a high shelf and leave them there until I can supervise each of the 3 kids when they look at books. I want them to take their own initiative and spend time looking at what interests them when it interests them.

This week I have spent some time in Google search looking around for ways to help the kids understand that books are things to be treasured and once the books are treasured they will be able to read and look at them longer.

How to Teach Kids to Care for Books

General Ideas to Teach Kids to Care for Books

Keep a nook for just books with a “special” area where the little ones can read / look at their books. This keeps the books from traveling and with a nice nook, can instill a sense of calm, which with my kids I find equals less tearing and destructiveness of said books.

Wash hands before heading into the “calming zone” that is your book area, this removes dirt and oils that will damage the books and leave marks. No food, snacks or drinks in the area.

Teach children how to carefully lift the corner of the page to turn it. Preferably have books on a flat surface for reading, especially if they are large.

Keep markers and crayons stored away so that they can not be used for drawing in books. I like to tell my 4 year old that the book already has words in it and has already been colored in so he doesn’t need to do it too. That this book is for reading and looking at only vs the pages that I print for him to color in with his crayons.

When a book is damaged I show my preschooler that I am saddened by what has just happened and that’s how I truly feel! I also have a few items that I use to fix broken books ranging from duct tape, contact paper and even my glue gun! Kind of doing a book hospital!

Genius Ideas and Concepts to Teach Kids to Care for Books

Kindergarten Kindergarten made a printable book (free) that can be downloaded to teach the little ones in the form of a story how sad the forest animals are that they are being drawn, stuck, messed and generally mistreated by the readers of the book. Happily the free printable has a well, happy ending.

Teach Preschool has a secret recipe for inviting children to take care of books in the preschool classroom by using some key ingredients. I also really enjoyed reading Deborah’s new book called Ready for Kindergarten where she shares almost 3 pages full of really useful tips for teaching your little one to take care of books.

The one tip in particular that has made an impact on me is to treat the book like a treasure and with little ones this means hugs! Yes! Hug the book! It’s a casual sign that you treasure the book and the time you just spent.

We have to teach and show our children by example how to care for books and how to use them properly.

(Be sure to scroll down and check the comments from readers for even more awesome tips!)


  1. says

    We actually have a box with a red cross and the words “Book Hospital” written on the end. The children in my in-home family daycare know that when they come across a book with a rip that the book “goes to the book hospital”. I mend with official book tape from Demco. I watched a tutorial on how to properly mend books on their website. On a daily basis we patiently teach my demonstration and walking them through how to turn pages gently. If a child just won’t stop bending those board books back on their spine then that child gets to use the cloth books for a few days (I invested in several of those just for this and for infants).
    I, too, like the idea of hugging the books!
    When I was in the middle of third grade my family moved from France to Colorado——-big tranisition! One day I was frustrated with another student because I just wasn’t making friends; I threw a book on the floor in my frustration. The teacher lovingly took me onto her lap and explained that books are our friends- that we need to treat them gently and never, ever throw them. Funny thing is, I was not embarrassed by her doing this in front of the other children and have never, ever thrown a book since!

  2. says

    I love that little suggestion at the end about having the children hug the books! What a great way to physically remind them that books are something they need to care for. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas for kids at Mom’s Library!

  3. says

    Thanks for sharing these tips, I too am trying to teach my little ones to be more gentle with our books. I love books and keep plenty of books around the house for them to look at, and thankfully, they love to look at them and have them read to them. But being 2 and 1, my kids are very hard on their board books, some have plenty of clear plastic tape all along their binding to keep them together!

  4. says

    Thank you for sharing this post! Teaching kids to value books and to treat them as the treasure they are is so important!
    I have had my own mini book hospital for a few very loved books over the years — I hate to toss any of them away!

  5. says

    I think it’s important to keep sending the consistent message and, like you said, let the kids know that you are sad to see damage books.

    I know you want to prevent damage, but since introducing the Book Doctor a few years ago, my daughter thinks much more about how she treats books. This was one of my first posts, my daughter is now 4:

    Lovely post. Important message,

  6. says

    I love the link you shared to Teach Preschool. I struggle with my youngest son over how he takes care of books (I’m a bookworm and love books!). It gives me some new ideas to try. Thank you!

  7. says

    Visiting the library and a librarian is also a good way to encourage children to take care of books. Asking the librarian questions specifically about book care can help.

    Role modelling is key as well (i.e. making sure that books are only used for reading).

    Thanks for sharing these tips.

    We like our books too.

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.


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