books · library · slice of life


Imagine my surprise when Ari set his books down at the library’s self-checkout kiosk and we learned his account was suspended because of a fine. And not just a $.50 fine. It was a fine for $7.20!

Soon after Ari got his library card, I noticed he wasn’t as on-top of his borrowed books like Isabelle is. Isabelle or I would notice when a book was here for a while and we’d return it. However, I didn’t realize how tardy he was with his books until he found a book on Somalia in the back seat of the car that I thought had been long returned.

That was a couple of weeks ago. After finding Somalia, Isabelle helped me scour the house for any additional books he had borrowed. The next time we went to the library she dropped whatever she found of his into the book return along with hers returns. I didn’t give it any more thought… until today.

I did the talking once we approached the circulation desk. It seemed Ari had three outstanding books. At 20 cents per day for children’s books (with a maximum fine of $3 per item), Ari had accumulated a $7.20 fine since all of the books were 12 days overdue!

“I’m going to pay the fine for you now, but you’re going to need to pay me back when we get home,” I told him.

I expected Ari to cry since he works hard to earn his allowance each week. Instead he said, “Okay.”

The librarian couldn’t have been nicer about his first fine. She didn’t admonish Ari. She did offer him a printed receipt for the new titles he borrowed. She also gave him an oral reminder of the due date.

Later in the day, I found this waiting on my night table when I got upstairs. I didn’t even have to remind Ari of his debt to me. He just paid it.

Sure enough, Ari repaid me with a five, two ones, and two dimes. I’m sure this stung, but I am quite certain he learned a valuable lesson at the tender age of five-and-a-half.

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

18 thoughts on “Fined!

  1. Library fines are the worst! I feel for Ari – and I’m impressed that he paid up without a fuss. I guess we know how much he values books. (Our library has changed their late fees. Now you only pay a late fee if the book is on hold or if you don’t pick up a hold before it expires. If you don’t return it after a generous five cycles, they charge you for a lost book. It’s pretty great.)

    1. Oh sweet Ari! He proved he is responsible. I’m sure he has learned a lesson. I’m impressed with his money counting abilities! Our library just did away with fines all together. Not sure how that’s going.

      1. I wonder…

        I understand why the library fines, but I think that for some kids (not Ari) a fine like that could’ve been devastating. I could see a lot of kids getting turned off to reading if they get punished like that. Thankfully, books have been a huge part of Ari’s life so he realize that this is just the consequence. But still…

  2. Awww Ari! Taking it like a champ! I love it… but what the what with the fines still? Our library has zero fines policy for children’s books! It’s wonderful. They started it when we moved here and I asked why and the librarian told me it went against their mission to get kids reading, when you “punish” kids for keeping books. They charge kids for damages or lost books and even then, they let you shop around with the matching ISBN credentials so you can get the best price. My youngest lost a baseball book that was worth $28 in their system but only $6 on Amazon. She found it for me online and was like, just drop it to me when it ships to you 🙂 At most we get reminder emails every 3-4 weeks depending on how in demand the book is… we need to petition your library to pick up our policy!

  3. Our library has a zero fines policy too, begun during COVID. I used to check out bins of books for my classroom and never regretted paying for the occasional (I think only three times) lost book. It says something about what books mean to Ari that he was unfazed by the fine and that he returned the money with no reminder. Way to go, Mom!

  4. Last year our library did away with fines! It was the nicest gift!

    My son once lost a book that we had to replace – it ended up being under the seats in our minivan. He was about the same age. He had to use some of his money to pay me back, and he never did it again!

  5. Way to be a tough mom! These lessons are ones that help you grow and mature, and show you that mom’s not always going to be there to bail you out. Great way to teach him responsibility!

  6. We had to monitor that book situation closely when my kids were little. One strategy we used is that they had a special library tote. The books stayed in there to be taken out when reading and returned. We also double checked with our checkout sheet, kept in a special pocket before our trip to the library. Good luck to Ari.

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