Library Skills - Teaching Guide

Updated on 13 April 2024


Understanding how to explore and use all of the features a library has to offer are valuable skills. Teaching children at an early age how a library works can significantly impact future academic success.


  • Students will identify the various sections in a library.
  • Students will understand the process by which books are borrowed or checked out and returned.
  • Students will explore the library and identify those sections that are of most value to them.


Kindergarten - Grade 2


Build Framework for Learning

Set the stage for the learning experience by sharing the cover of How a Library Works with the students. Ask them what they think they will learn after they read the book. Ask them what they see in the cover illustration. Point out that the title, author and illustrator are shown both on the front of the book and on the spine. Ask students if they know why and discuss that books in the library are shelved showing the spine rather than the covers.

Read How a Library Works aloud to the students. Stop periodically to discuss.

Pages 7-8:
Ask students which of the sections in the book are also found in your local or school library. Does your library have DVDs, video games, and CDs? Does your library have anything that the O’Hare Public Library doesn’t have?

Pages 12-13:
Discuss the differences between a school library and a public library. Ask students to share their own experiences in both.

Pages 19-20:
Ask students if they know the difference between nonfiction and fiction books. Select a few books to use to show the students how they are labeled differently.

Page 24:
Quiz the students on a few of the key words the book highlights such as those in the glossary. Turn to the back of the cover and share the blurb. Ask the students if any of the other titles interest them. Then ask them where in the library they might find the other books in the Library Skills series.

After reading the book, create a Venn diagram on the whiteboard or chart paper. Discuss the differences between a public library and a school library. For example, school libraries are used by students and teachers in a school and public libraries are used by people who live in that community. Another difference is that public libraries are larger and have various sections of books. Talk about your library and complete the Venn diagram through the discussion so that students understand that a public library offers a larger variety of books and materials than many school libraries.

Scavenger Hunt

Once the students are familiar with the different sections of the library, it is important that they know how to find the resources they need for assignments or just books they might enjoy reading. Read How to Find a Book aloud to the students, and reinforce how a library organizes books so we can easily find them. Provide the Library Scavenger Hunt reproducible for each child and let the children work with a buddy to see how many of the items they can find within a certain amount of time. Remind the students that even though they may be competing against other student groups, they should use their library voice at all times and refrain from running.

Extension Activity

More advanced students will enjoy creating a map of the library. Provide graph paper, rulers, pencils and markers or crayons. Ask them to draw a map of the library that includes each section. Instruct them to label each section so that a new student might use the map to explore the library.

Creative Writing

After exploring the books in the Library Skills series with students, ask them to generate a list of words that describe their library. For example, they may say quiet, fun, full of books, a place to learn, a place to study, etc. Write their responses on chart paper or the whiteboard where they can refer to it. Explain that they will be creating posters to advertise the library. Next provide each student with the Stew and Opal coloring sheet. Ask them to create a library poster by writing a headline and filling in the speech bubbles. Encourage them to use some of the words you have written on the chart paper. Give them time to color their posters. Display the posters around the school or library.

Put it Back in the Right Place

After reviewing the books in the Library Skills series, specifically How to Find a Book, this activity will give students practice with the numbering system. Give each student a book from various parts of the library. Instruct them to find out where that book belongs. Ask them to place their book on the shelf but leave it half-way off the shelf so you can identify where the students have shelved the books. When all of the students have replaced their books, take a tour and check the placement as a group.

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