Are you getting the most out of your library for your homeschool? The library is one of the best resources for a homeschool family, these are some great ideas for using the library in fun and unique ways!
#1 Visit the library.
I’m always surprised when people say they don’t have a library card. The library is full of free books! Books! For free! You can browse and discover all kinds of books that you never would have imagined before. If you don’t like them, you aren’t stuck with them and you don’t feel guilty for wasting money. It’s beautiful.
#2 Find The Perfect Library
Our library has many programs and activities available all year round, for all ages. In addition to the joy of checking out incredible books and movies, we are invited to movie nights, book clubs, guest speakers, and lots of hands-on fun. There is a coffee shop with fresh cookies, soups, and sandwiches. There is even a gift shop, staffed by volunteers, where all proceeds go toward the library. The catch to all of this, is that we have to drive an hour and a half to get there. We live several counties away, so we have to pay a fee to join. The fee, plus the gas, plus the time away from home make this an investment for us, but it’s been very worthwhile.
If you don’t have a perfect library in your district, browse a bit and see if one is available. Don’t discount it without a little investigating. If our library had the standard two-week limit on books, we couldn’t do it, but ours allows us to check out books for three weeks and even allows us to renew our books online for an additional two weeks. We can reserve books online and have a friend pick them on his way through the city. Take time to look around and see what your options are.
#3 Don’t Discount the Imperfect Libraries
We have a nice, but small library nearby. Our local library doesn’t have the funding for programs and coffee shops, but they have their own perks. I was surprised that this smaller library actually has a better section for early readers than our larger, flashier library. They also offer summer reading activities for the kids. The rewards are simple, but fun is fun, be it big or small! Another perk to a small local library is the company. As a homeschool mom, I’ve made good contacts through our local librarians. They recognize homeschool mamas and are quick to help them connect with other families.
#4 Make It a Habit
Make the library a weekly habit, if possible. Drop in on your way to other errands, encouraging your children to find two books in ten minutes. Drop in and linger for an hour, if you can spare it. Two hours, if yours has a coffee shop. If your children seem overwhelmed or bored with the task, give them specific assignments: “This week, I want you to find one biography and one fiction story” or “Can you find me a book about jungles?”. If they have no problem filling the basket with fluff and nonsense, you might require two non-fiction books or come to an arrangement combining their choices and some that you choose for them. Help them avoid ruts so that when they tire of one kind of book they don’t think they’ve tired of reading altogether.
#5 Set a Good Example
You are getting books of your own, aren’t you? They aren’t just fluff and nonsense, are they? Are you in a rut? Be sure to allow time for them to read freely, and be sure they see you reading freely as well.
We’ve recently started to volunteer with our local library, which has been a good experience for our kids. Most library volunteers are sweet grandmas and they appreciate all kinds of help. Our small library has a book sale once a year. These sweet, older women were grateful for volunteers that set up tables and carried boxes of books. The job that took an hour for a handful of teenagers would have taken days for these women on their own. Check with your library and see if there’s a job with your name on it.
#7 Fix It
If there are things that you don’t like about your local library, is there a way that you personally could help to improve it? Could you donate 15 minutes per week to read for a story hour? Could you visit local businesses to request donations for summer reading program incentives? Do you know talented individuals who could do these things, but just need someone to direct them?
There are rich treasures stored in every library; some require more hunting than others. Dig deep and see what your library may yield.