Checkout, Read, Return, and Repeat

For those of you not old enough to remember the old cards used to check out books from the library, here's what they looked like:

Though I enjoy all the newly automated systems we now have for checking books out of the library, there is something I miss about taking the checkout card out of the pocket inside the book, signing my name to it, and turning it into the librarian.  There's part of me that looks back on that old-fashioned checkout routine with a certain sentimental fondness, and it makes me miss the way we used to do things.  But besides just missing that old, familiar routine, I also miss seeing my name signed again and again to the checkout cards of my favorite books.

Thinking back on this library memory has made me ponder the value of repetition as it relates to reading.  Growing up, I read many of my favorite books over and over again.  Then later when I became a teacher, I had the opportunity to read many of those same books, and many new ones, over and over again several more times.  Finally when I began my endeavor to write children's books, I read some of those same books yet again as examples of excellent writing and storytelling.  All of that repetition gave me such a strong foundation of what "story" really is. 

There is always something somewhat magical for me about a book I fall in love with, but when we become so familiar with a story by reading it again and again, I almost feel as if that magic becomes, not just something we experience and enjoy while reading, but it actually becomes part of us.  So, though we don't have the old-fashioned checkout cards as a record of all those magical books that have seeped into our souls, hopefully this blog post will give you a reason to remember all those books that you have enjoyed over and over again throughout your life.  And when you do, maybe you will want to take a few minutes to think about how those stories are now a big part of who you are.  

Happy Reading and Repeating,


  1. I still use the Sea! With students at the check out desk, a LOT of items don't get checked out on the computer or get checked out to other patrons. Then there's accountability; when students say " I never checked that book out!" I can confirm that they did!

    1. Ah yes, the checks and balances. :) Thanks for your comment!
      Nancy J. Cavanaugh

  2. I agree with the statement about the joy of seeing your name signed over and over again on a favorite book. The flimsy slip of paper (receipt) that comes with my library check out just isn't the same. Sigh!

  3. Whenever I'm sad, I go to my bookshelf and take down some book that I've read dozens of times - a Betsy-Tacy book by Maud Hart Lovelace, a Shoes book by Noel Streatfeild. And I'm happiest of all if I can read one of these childhood favorites in an actual discarded library-bound book, with one of those cards in the back, rather than reissued paperback. So: yes, yes, yes, Nancy!

  4. I love EVERYthing about this post, and yes, I do remember the cards :) Thanks for tweeting this, Darlene!


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