Nature Activities to Enjoy at Your Local Library



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. Here are some ways you and your family can enjoy nature all year long 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. Not sure where to start? Stop at the librarian’s desk and ask for some suggestions about nature-related books. Whether you are interested in non-fiction, fiction, or children’s books, you will be sure to find so many treasures at the library.


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. Check out www.storywalkhouston.com/ to find a location near 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! Branches of the Harris County Public Library have hosted Walk and Talk Book Clubs in the past. 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, which involves volunteering to collect scientific data. Through citizen science, government offices and other organizations engage the public in addressing societal needs and accelerating science, technology, and innovation. It is a wonderful way both children and adults to gain science experience and directly help the scientific community.

The Houston Public Library offers Discovery Kits, and has plans to add a seed library, as part of its Library of Things collection. They’re available for check-out to Houston Public Library card holders. The Harris County Public Library offers a collection of gardening tools including hoes, gloves, wheelbarrows and more for those who might want to try their hand at gardening as a way to explore the natural world.


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!

Both the Houston Public Library and the Harris County Public Library have offered these programs in the the past, partnering with Pawsitive Pups and Paws for Literacy. Check the libraries’ calendars of events for more.

Keep an eye out for fun nature activities at your local library. For more information, visit Let’s Move in Libraries.


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