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How To Use The Library | Visit The Library While Traveling With Kids

I’m a big fan of the library. We check out lots of books, but there are so many other ways to use local libraries. This post is part of a series about the many ways to make the most of local libraries because Libraries Are More Than Books.

A few weeks ago, my nine-year-old son and I were out of town for a couple of his hockey games. We have more than five hours between games. We were too far away to return home but didn’t travel far enough from home to need a hotel.

We didn’t want to do anything too active between games to prevent him from being tired for the second hockey game. So we found the closest local library and popped in for an hour and a half to read and write.

As we packed for the day trip, I brought my computer so my son could work on the story he’s been writing. He really wants to self-publish it when he’s done.

I also brought the book I was reading, looking forward to some quiet time at the library to read.

My son was reading the fifth Harry Potter book at the time, and I planned to bring it with us. Unfortunately, I forgot to put it in my bag before we left. Nonetheless, we stopped in and made ourselves comfortable.

Because he was reading such a popular book, we asked the librarians if they had any copies on the shelves he could read for an hour or two. Without being local residents, we couldn’t check out books. That was fine since we wouldn’t be back to return them anyway.

But they did have a copy on the shelves! So while I read my book, he found his place in their copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and we both read for nearly an hour and a half.

While we took advantage of the cozy reading corner in the children’s section of the library, there were several other activities you can do at many libraries beyond reading. If they have puzzles, you could work on one of those for a bit. Many children’s library areas have toys, blocks, or other games to borrow or use while visiting.

We have also used the local library near my parents’ house while visiting them over the holidays. They live in Minnesota, so we have to find lots of things to do indoors. In the past, we’ve checked out books under their library card to have plenty to read during the day or before the boys go to bed (without having to carry a bunch of books in our luggage while traveling).

If you aren’t with someone who has a card, some libraries offer non-resident library cards. You’ll have to check with the librarian to understand their rules and fees around obtaining a non-resident card, but it could be a great way to check out some books while on vacation without having to haul all the books on the plane.

Next time you’re out of town or away from home with a few extra hours to fill, consider visiting the library in the area. Most librarians are happy to have patrons visiting and excited to welcome new people into their spaces.

Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and advocate for sustainable living for modern families. To find her latest work, subscribe to her newsletter, Stepping Stones.

In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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