Remember that glorious feeling of freedom when school ended for the summer? Then the dejection as reality set in and you realized you faced two whole months with nothing to do? Boredom! It’s even worse when it is your kids feeling bored and you don’t have the cash to go on vacation. The good news is that your public library can help you plan a journey of fun activities in your local community.
Being outdoors can be a great part of summer, especially hiking around our beautiful area. Libraries have hiking guides. Libraries also have information about the plants and animals you might find along the trail. Help your kids make a list of plants they want to find or practice drawing pictures of them, which will add to their enjoyment during the hike.
Throughout the summer, local groups organize events and festivals where community members come together. Look for information on your library’s bulletin board; search the internet; and read or watch local media (the library always has copies of local papers). You and your kids can do a little pre-festival research on the event’s theme, a great way to add to the fun and mix in a little learning. For example, if the theme is hazelnuts, you can learn where they grow, how they grow, and foods you can make with them. Plus, there are books with stories set on hazelnut farms. If the theme is another country’s culture, the library offers books, magazines and special websites where children can learn about the country. With the pre-festival research at the library, your kids will have more fun and you will know their learning is continuing even during the summer break.
Did you know that some libraries offer a ‘cultural pass’ that’s available for check-out? Many libraries have created partnerships with local museums or zoos to make it possible for library card holders to enjoy these special places for free. Visit your local library’s website or ask the staff what cultural passes they offer.
The library can help you create some fun indoor activities for those hot days when you don’t want to go outside. You’ll find magazines, books and videos that offer information all sorts of crafts and activities – from popsicle stick houses to indoor fort building to cooking to kaleidoscopes – something for any child’s age. The bonus about coming to the library for indoor activity ideas? It’s cool and air-conditioned!
With your imagination and a few resources from the library, you can take a pretend trip to a far-off land. Pick any country you and your family would like to explore, and the library can help you do that. Of course, there are books and magazines in languages other than English: Spanish, Chinese, Italian, French, etc. Reading books with stories about kids in other countries is a great way for children to learn about other places. At the library, there are extra learning tools online that teach you about a country’s history, schools, food and social etiquette. Plus, you and your family could even learn how to speak another language through Mango Languages, a website that some libraries can access.
This summer in particular is a great time to explore the cultures of other countries, because the summer reading theme for Oregon’s public libraries is One World, Many Stories. Libraries’ summer reading programs encourage recreational reading (and listening) for all ages. They offer free – and very fun – programs that stimulate an interest to read. There are even summer reading programs for adults – we don’t want the kids to have all the fun. Your library’s websites, e-newsletters and flyers all have information about summer reading.
So be coool at the public library, and enjoy all the learning and resources it offers as your family celebrates the fun summer months!
Cynthia M. Olsen is the Youth Services Manager at the Eugene Public Library. For more than 20 years, she has worked to instill a love of reading for fun and knowledge in all ages. Parenting Now! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening families through parent support and education. Explore this site; visit us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram; or call 541-484-5316. Family Info Line is also available; call 211, extension 5, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .