As I am sure you are all aware, libraries are a fantastic resource for your homeschool life. They provide you and your children access to oodles of books, resources, and activities, all for free. And who doesn’t love free books? Libraries are also some of the largest supporters of literacy and knowledge for all. Therefore, actively using your local library is directly helping your community in providing valuable resources and a love of reading.
“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open.”
Build Your Library, as the name implies – aims to help you fill your house with great books. There is nothing more fulfilling and convenient than wandering from bookshelf to bookshelf in the comfort of your own home. But there is little that inspires reading more than a trip to the public library. No matter how extensive your personal book collection is, and let me tell you – ours was EXTENSIVE for a homeschooling family, your neighborhood public library probably makes yours look small by comparison. Even a small library still aims to have their shelves stocked with books on as many topics as possible.
There are few things as exciting as exploring a library, especially as a child. It was always very fun to take a trip to our public library without any plans in mind and choose a new book to read completely blind. The rabbit hole possibilities are endless! Your child could discover a newfound love for outer space just because of a book display. Or even develop an odd fascination with teeth and dentistry. Ahem… like me. Open Wide: Tooth School Inside by Laurie Keller was strangely one of my favorite books to check out from the library as a kid. For years I would constantly check it out, almost every other time we’d go. I am sure I probably read it about 100 times. My mother even gave me this book as a joke Christmas present last year! Finally, I now have my own copy of it!
“If I was a book, I would like to be a library book, so I would be taken home by all different sorts of kids.”
There is always a great community surrounding a library. Keep an eye out for various activities and clubs hosted by your local library and participate! Perhaps your child will be able to join or start a book club and make friends with other kids who enjoy the same kinds of books as them or discover new books to read and love. Another type of club that I have taken part in was an anime club. We’d get together, turn off the lights, watch anime on a big projector screen in the library’s media room and eat snacks – more specifically a lot of M&Ms.
I also participated in a library-sponsored D&D club, which would have been a bit more fun had it not been just me and a bunch of middle school boys playing… but the storytelling and adventure kept me going once a week for a couple of years! Eventually, the adventurers stopped meeting when the dungeon master “went away to college,” and no one else took it over. Oddly enough, I ran into him at college. Unbeknownst to me, the college he went away to a few years prior was the same one I now attend. We are even studying the same major: creative writing.
I also had a blast with the yearly summer reading challenges, in which you can win prizes for simply reading books. Every year we would all sign up, read a bunch of books, and usually get a gift card to a local restaurant. It was only a $10 gift card but with 3 or 4 of us participating, it would make for a pretty decent chunk of the bill for our family of 6 to go out to the local pizza parlor. But I think my favorite summer reading challenge memory was winning a writing contest. The prompt was a story about a sea-monster. My story was somewhere along the lines of a sea-serpent saving a fishing town from… running out of fish? I think? It’s probably cringey in retrospect but hey, I won.
Just a few days ago, we were driving past our public library and I caught a glimpse of their sign out front. Next week they are hosting another “stuffed animal sleepover.” If your library doesn’t run one, this is where you drop off a stuffed animal friend and they get to have stories read to them by the librarians and play fun sleepover games while you’re at home. To let you know how much fun your stuffed animal is having, the librarians document the event and post pictures to the library’s Facebook page!
I’m pretty sure I only participated once, and I must have been very little because I can barely remember it. I could never stand to leave my favorite stuffed animal overnight without me, even with all of the fun planned. But I bet it was certainly the most exciting and fun experience of that stuffie’s life. I would highly recommend it if your library ever does this. Even if it is was “B team” stuffie, not my favorite near-velveteen bear Tedy (yes, spelled with one D). We did laugh about the possibility of having my younger sister drop off her ridiculously large 5-foot-long stuffed great white shark to the sleepover. This is solely to make the librarian lug it around and take pictures of it with all the normal sized plush bears and bunnies… 🙂
Most libraries, ours included, also hosted a regular story time during normal business hours. My mom was always reading aloud to us anyways, so we rarely attended their scheduled sessions. But every now and then we would show up to the library to get some books and catch one of the librarians reading to a group of kids. We’d always sit down and listen along. It might not be your assigned curriculum reading or personal favorite book, but it gives mom a break! I think mom might have actually gotten a couple of chances to look at books for herself.
“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.”
For some families, however, there might not be a library near enough for them to make a trip every couple weeks. That does not bar you from making use of the library system! Libby, for example, is an app that will allow you to use your library card to borrow e-books right on your smartphone. Overdrive is another app that works similarly, but also has a variety of audiobooks if that is what you prefer.
And if you are able to visit the library regularly, but perhaps it is smaller or doesn’t have the best selection, ask about inter-library loan! With that you can request just about any book within the networked library system. And the best part, it gets delivered from another district’s library right to you! I would have inter-library loaned that tooth book until the librarian banned me from requesting it anymore. Good thing it was already on their shelf!
Currently, I have the great fortune of living in a large city. We have a HUGE public library really close to my dorm! Literally, one block diagonally away, I can walk down whenever I feel like, establishing it as almost a home-away-from-home. It also smells very nice inside, which is a bonus. Libraries always smell so nice!
“The love of libraries, like most loves, must be learned.”
I’ve had a deep love for books and libraries passed onto me from a very young age. Luckily, it hasn’t faded as I grew older but lingered on thanks to fond memories of days spent discovering new stories at our library.
There are so many reasons to use your local library. What are you waiting for? Visit your local public library today!
Sarah Cook has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. She loves to read, daydream, and fangirl over her favorite anime and manga. As a K – 12 homeschool survivor and graduate, she is currently a creative writing major in college. She hopes to someday travel the world, write bestselling novels, and own 152 cats. You can follow her on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.