School libraries are some of the most magical places in the school building (hey, you don’t have to be a school librarian to admit it), and library activities are some of the most memorable from elementary school.
When I was in elementary school, library days were my favorite days of the week. I loved walking in a neat line with my class as we toted our library bags through the school grounds, my head filled with excitement at the thought of borrowing some new books for the week!
Once we arrived at the library, we were treated to a story, before being allowed to scour the shelves for new mysteries, jokes, or interesting books on whatever topic piqued our interest. I loved the school librarian, and most of all, I loved the library activities for kids that she had put together, just for us.
Library Activities for Kids
If your school is lucky enough to have a school librarian, you know they are one of a kind! They know the library like the back of their hand and help your class explore books and develop a love for literature that is second-to-none.
If you DON’T have a school librarian, life can be a little tricky.
At the last school I taught at, we had a school librarian for a year, then the next year we did not. However, we still had scheduled ‘library time’. I knew I could use the now-free lesson to catch my class up on lesson content (which teacher wouldn’t love this?!), but I felt bad that my students wouldn’t be learning to love the library as much as I had. It was time for me to level up and continue making visiting the library a meaningful experience for my class.
Whether you’re a school librarian looking for some new ideas or a teacher who’s in that “budget cuts cost us our beloved librarian boat,” we’ve got you covered! To help you out we’ve put together some fantastic library activities for kids to help you and your class maximize the use of your school library.
Get Your Class Excited
There are a lot of buzz words associated with the library nowadays – Digital Learning Center, Literacy Center, Book Nook, or the more familiar School Library. Whatever terminology your school adopts, they have one thing in common; they make fantastic places to grow a love for books and reading. And that sure is something to get excited about!
On your first trip to the library, let the kids explore the books at their leisure. While they’re browsing, have them fill out a Book Wish List of books they might like to borrow over the next 6- or 9-weeks, or even the next semester!
Remind each student that reading is a superpower! And they will be using their library time to strengthen their superpowers each week.
Here are some other resources that can help your students get excited about the library:
Discuss How to Use the Library
Shhh! Make sure you’re quiet in the library!
As a hub for study, discussion, research, and technology, the libraries of today’s world are vastly different from the silent stacks of yesteryear. There are a few rules, however, that go unchanged!
Taking Care of Books
Make sure you chat with your class about the best way to use the library and its books respectfully. Why don’t you brainstorm with your class the best way to treat books and make a poster to refer to again and again? I’ve used our Books – Landscape Page Border.
Introduce Library Lingo
The next step to using a library is getting down with the lingo! I loved using our Boho Geometric Word Wall to create a wall display of library-related terms!
Your students can research their library vocabulary to find out exactly what the library is all about! As they find the meaning of each word, get them to find the word in a Library Lingo word search! Simply input your library vocabulary into our Create Your Own Word Search Widget.
Take a StoryWalk®
Created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, in association with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, the term StoryWalk® is a registered trademark, but they’re pretty eager to spread the word about this fun library activity for kids! The basic idea? Take a popular children’s story from a book, and break it down so kids can walk through the story — be it on your school campus, in your town, or wherever it is safe and encouraged for kids to wander.
The idea is to get kids engaged in the story and to help them with the transition from words on a page to their greater imagination. The creative educators at Oak Grove Elementary in DeKalb, Georgia shared this StoryWalk® for Dear Mr. Blueberry (a fantastic story by Simon James) with us after being inspired by Ferguson’s concept.
Play Go Fish
Whether you have reluctant readers who need a little motivation or kids who just can’t make a choice because there are so many good options, turning library time into a game of Go Fish can be a great way to help students get excited about the adventure aspect of choosing a new book in the library. Instagramer (and school librarian) the @reading_librarian shared this fun idea with us, and promised it’s a crowd-pleaser, so give it a try!
Library Scavenger Hunt
Before your students can use the library to its full potential, they need to be able to navigate its shelves!
Your library might have a slightly different layout and shelving system to the next, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put together a Library Scavenger Hunt!
If your library uses the Dewey Decimal System, then Our Dewey Decimal System Poster is a great resource to display to remind your students of the system! Why not print it out on half-page size and give each child a copy to keep in their library bag?
Shared Novel Study
One of my favorite activities to do when I was a teacher was to read a shared novel with my class. Sitting down and reading a story, breaking down the characters’ motives, predicting what would happen next – it was all so much fun! Seeing the students get involved with reading was such a rewarding experience. And even better, it was educational!
The library is the perfect place for a shared novel study! We have developed an amazing Novel Study Activity Resource Pack to help you and your class take a novel study to the next level. From predicting the plot to analyzing the characters, help your students pull apart a story with these educational worksheets.
Independent Student Research
Taking your students to the library for independent work can sound daunting – but, if done properly, it can be a wonderfully empowering experience for your class.
The library environment offers your students an amazingly broad variety of books and digital resources to research with!
Once your students have familiarized themselves with the shelving system in the library, let them go crazy with a research task.
Independent research tasks, such as our Genius Hour Teaching Resource Pack, give your students the opportunity to drive their own learning, explore their own interests, and cross off a whole lot of curriculum standards while they’re at it!
If your students aren’t up to working on their own research tasks, why not take them to the library to develop their inquiry skills on a whole-class or group project?
- Split your class into groups and give each group a topic to research.
- Send them out into the library to find books with information on that topic.
- Encourage each group to read through their books and write down some interesting facts on their topic.
- Have them present their findings to the rest of the class.
Set Up a Tracking System
The easiest way to get kids excited about books? Make it a group project. School librarian Stephanie shared this fun bulletin board she has up in her elementary school library where she tracks the books that her classes have read by posting the covers each time a book has been finished.
Reading Center Activities
You can’t put together a pack of library activities for kids without including some fabulous reading center activities!
Guided reading and independent reading groups take on a new spin in the library. There are so many books to choose from, you’re sure to find something for every interest at any reading level.
Holly has written a fabulous idea for How to Effectively Teach Comprehension in the Classroom.
Write a Book Report
For a quick and easy library activity, you can’t go past a good, old-fashioned book report.
Accompanied by these reading posters, these book report worksheets encourage your students to value the opinions of their peers and read a greater variety of texts!
Remind Them to Mark the Book
Dog-eared pages are enough to make any school librarian cringe (OK, we admit it … sometimes we tear up too). Elementary school librarian Lacey shared this fun “pick a bookmark” reminder that she has placed at her book check-out desk to make sure that never happens. And can we please talk about those googly eyes on that scanner?
Get some of our favorite bookmarks to set up in your bookmark section:
Check out more reading activities from Teach Starter: 9 Splendiferous Roald Dahl Activities for the Classroom
We hope we’ve inspired you to use your school library! How do you get value out of this amazing place?
Comment below to share your school library activities for kids!