In today's economy and with today's tight budgets, the library has become more important than ever to family fun. The library is the perfect source of free reading materials for the whole family, but it's also so much more. Children's rooms are now decked out with toys and puzzles, and there are often weekly or monthly events for children and their parents to enjoy together: game nights, crafts, and other activities.
Here are a few ideas for enjoying your public library with your family.
Summer reading program: Run, don't walk, to your nearest library and get signed up for their summer reading program. Not only does it encourage your kids to keep up their reading skills over the summer, but these programs can be jam-packed with puppet shows, concerts, magicians, and other fun events for your kids to enjoy. Even when summer ends, keep your eye on your library's website for upcoming events and activities.
Scavenger hunt: Does your child know her way around the library? She will now! Create a scavenger hunt that will have your kids—quietly—exploring every corner of the library from the reference desk to the teen area. Want them to stay in the children's room? Have them hunt for certain books instead.
Learn a new craft: Every children's room has a section on kid-appropriate crafts. Browse the books together until you find a new craft you want to learn, then go home and try it out together.
Get nostalgic: Remember how much you loved favorite authors like Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak, or Beverly Cleary? Now you can introduce your kids to your favorite characters at the library. Teach kids how to use the computer catalog to look up a new or favorite author, then hunt down the books together.
Do a research project: School curriculums are so jam-packed these days that they can't cover everything. Home-based research projects are a great way to encourage learning based on your kids' interests. Enlist your local librarian to help you find age-appropriate books, then plan an activity to go along with them.
Create a family tree: Many libraries have a genealogy department that can help you dig up information about your ancestors. Don't live in the place where you were born? See if you can discover something new about your house or your city.
Have your own read-a-thon: Put on your coziest clothes, grabbed a stuffed friend, then head to the library and load up with a stack of books. You can have your read-a-thon right there in the library—many have cozy and creative places where kids can settle in and read. Or, bring your stash home, pop up some popcorn, and read the afternoon away.
Hold a movie marathon: See a rainy day in your future or having a bunch of kids over for the night? Many libraries rent DVDs for as little as 50 cents. Snuggle up and relax until the sun comes out again.
What's your favorite way to enjoy the library?
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