Libraries used to only be filled with hold-in-your-hand printed books, but over time, their offerings have expanded to so much more. First they added movies, then e-books, and now many local libraries let you borrow puzzles, cake pans, American Girl dolls, science kits, and more. They also provide so much training to the community and organize incredible events that bring stories alive. Many of these events involve connecting to nature, so I wanted to highlight some ways you and your family can enjoy nature through your local library.
Nature Book Readings
Nature books can be showcased during story times for little ones, book clubs for all ages, and guest author events. Reading about nature is especially soothing. You can look for nature-related books at your local library and suggest they offer programs centered on your favorite ones. If you are looking for nature book suggestion, check out my Resources page.
Did you know you can request your library to add a book to their collection? Just ask a librarian or look for a book request form on your library website. I would be forever grateful if you requested my books to be at your library. Thank you!
StoryWalk® programs promote literacy, reading, health, exercise, and movement in communities. A Storywalk® consists of a children’s book placed on boards that are spread out so readers can walk (or run) from one page of the book to the next. It is a very interactive way to read a book while also enjoying being outdoors.
My children and I recently discovered a StoryWalk® at our local library. Behind the library is a lake with a trail circling it. On one side of the lake, there is a hidden trail that we never knew existed. The first story board is found at the entrance to this secret trail. We continued to follow the meandering path through the native sawgrass marsh to read the story that was about nature, of course.
My daughter was so excited because it was like a treasure hunt. We did not know when the next page of the book would appear. As we strolled from one board to the next, we spotted birds, insects, and native plants. As soon as she saw the next page of the book, she pointed, shouted, and ran as fast as she could to find out what happened next in the story. We had such a blast during our hike. I highly recommend trying to find a StoryWalk® by you. If you cannot find any, consider recommending the idea to your local library since they are successful in many communities.
Walk and Talk Book Clubs
Lots of libraries are now offering ways to get moving as well. This might look like yoga and other fitness classes; walking, running, and biking clubs; and walk and talk book clubs. Imagine being outside surrounded by the beauty of nature while you are discussing a nature book you just read. That sounds like pure bliss to me! Ask if your library has a walking book club or start your own. This is such a great idea for kids’ book clubs as well.
Science Kits and Outdoor Exploration Backpacks
At our local library, they now have all types of science kits and outdoor exploration backpacks for families to borrow and enjoy. Many of them include a book on a particular science topic, materials for an experiment or project, and of course instructions. Topics range from biodiversity to weather to insects and more. These kits are a wonderful way to encourage kids to connect with nature, and some even provide the opportunity to participate in a citizen science project.
Dog Reading Programs
Library dog reading programs are a popular way for children to relax and sharpen their reading skills while connecting with a lovable dog at their local library. Children are fond of reading to therapy dogs because it is less intimidating than speaking in front of their teacher or classmates. Dogs can be some of the best listeners; they are non-judgmental, friendly, and will not laugh at a child who makes a mistake. Being that the reading session takes place in a quiet library, it also offers a calm, comfortable environment for children.
Typically, children pick out a book of their choice and sit down next to the dog and its handler to read. Over time, the children’s reading ability and confidence improve. Reading in itself is one of the best ways to reduce stress. So, reading with a furry friend provides double the benefits!
Keep an eye out for fun nature activities at your local library. For more information, visit Let’s Move in Libraries.