If you're looking for an inexpensive activity to work into your routine (or lack of routine!) this summer, take the kids to your local library.
Make a thing of it. Get tote bags together (you know you've got some in the bottom of the closet) so everyone has their own bag, visit the library and give the kids time to browse and select books.
Make the most of your library trip with these activities:
- Help kids get library cards if they don't already have them.
- Introduce kids to the librarian or children's librarian.
- Show them how to find
- Books for their age group
- Audiobooks (here are 21 ways your homeschool can benefit from audiobooks)
- Movies (see how you can talk about books by talking about movies)
- A book by their favorite author
- Show kids how to browse and return books to the right spot (or leave them unshelved).
- Check the library website for storytime or other programming the kids might enjoy.
- Show older kids how to use the online catalog.
If you've got a busy or challenging toddler, give special thought to getting through the library visit:
- Will they sit in a stroller or sling for a few minutes?
- Can they pick out books of their own from the toddler picture books?
- Can you bring a few quiet, loseable toys the toddler can sit on the floor with while other kids are still looking for books?
- Can you sit with your youngest during storytime so the older kids have time to pick out books?
Keep your eye out for summer reading programs for youth, which most libraries have during the summer. While some of those programs may be well under way, others are purposely set up so patrons can join any time during the summer. Some library reading programs have swag: bookmarks, tee shirts, and stickers. Some may have an "end of summer" party where the kids celebrate all the books they've read.
Combine your library trip with something else special if you can—an ice cream cone, throwing coins in a fountain, some time at the playground or park, or a few minutes reading and looking through books in a coffee shop (with those smoothie lids well secured!)
I always found I could not do a great library visit to browse books for myself when I had all the kids with me. I often used the online catalog at home to have the library gather books for me in time for our library visit. That way I could just pick them up while the kids were checking out their books and keep my mind on assisting and supervising my kiddos.
Library visits once a week or once every other week is a good rhythm to get into for summer. And don't forget to schedule in a library visit before road trips so kids have a book to read on vacation—along with a good family audiobook for long car rides (the free Libby app to stream audiobooks from your library is great for this).
One thing you may want to think about ahead of time: how many books should each child check out to take home? Some parents have a "one book for each year of your age" guideline for their family. Other parents say kids can check out as many books as they can carry without dropping any. What's your guideline?
And once you're home with bags of books, help your kids know the "temporary home" for their library books. I like clearing off a reachable bookshelf so each child has their own space. We put the full tote bags right on the shelf. This makes it easier to find books when it's time to return them to the library.
The great thing about going to the library is that these visits can be part of your deschooling period if you're new to homeschooling—or they can be part of your regular homeschool program. Going to the library fits for all ages and all stages of homeschooling.
Help your kids be bookworms this summer!