Homeschool in Memphis

Homeschooling Treasures Right Under Your Nose

10 Free Educational Activities At Your Local Library

Guest Author: Deidra L. Tolliver 

One of the most magnificent locations in your town is your local public library! Even if your library is old, has low ceilings and ancient lighting, smells funny, or hasn’t yet been upgraded to modern times, it is STILL one of the most magnificent locations in your town. It naturally, consistently oozes with endless access to FREE information! Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. But, there is soooooo much more at your library than just your typical books, so much more to engage in than you may realize, so much more to discover, explore, indulge in, and tap into. We are here to help guide you down an enlightening path to discovering more, fun, FREE, exciting, field trip-worthy reasons you should visit your very own public library, TODAY! 

The general definition of a library is a collection of different sources of information and resources made accessible to a community for reference or borrowing. Libraries are MORE THAN BOOKS! It’s original purpose was to house books, but in 2018 libraries have evolved into efficient and effective information hubs, stations, headquarters, and more. No matter what the age or size of your library, it packs a powerful punch in the department of information availability GALORE

Below are 10+ ideas and activities you should engage in right up the street or around the corner at one of your local libraries.


Depending on the size and modernness of your library, they may offer tours. It’s worth inquiring, just to get a gist of where each department is. If no tours are offered, become your own docent-in-training with your home school students and walk the halls from wall to wall, corner to corner, aisle to aisle, and indulge in it’s beauty and gifts (or scent).  🙂


If you’re our age, then you remember long hours of trying to find older information that was only available on those ancient rolls of film called microfilm. If you have not visited the microfilm (I’m almost SURE they were called “microfiche” back then) section of your library, you’re in for a treat. They have upgraded microfilm (if you have access to a modern library), and it is not nearly as cumbersome! We opted to look up events that took place on mom and dad’s birthdays “back in the day.” What we found and read about was SO FASCINATING! Just the things that were being advertised, the way they were advertised, the prices of EVERYTHING, and the tone and audience in which the writers used and targeted. Simply FASCINATING!

3.  STORYTIME (little ones)

Most libraries offer storytime nowadays, and it’s a perfect way to engage in reading, to allow someone else to captivate your children’s attention for a change, and to get the little ones out of the house on scheduled days and times. While you’re there, maybe you and the kiddies will enjoy a quick walk or self-guided tour (see #1 above) around the library, if little ones permit.

4.  STUDY ROOMS (all ages)

These rooms are generally first come, first serve, and they are the coziest, most personal and comfortable study areas imaginable. When my son was younger, we would pack a back pack of his  phonics and writing material, grab a few hands-on activities, some coloring books and utensils, and head to our library to reserve a study room for maybe an hour. (We even carried along his booster seat for the sturdy, solid, low-seating chairs.) It’s a great way to practice the habit of concentration and studying. It’s a chance to embrace quietness or quiet time in a different way, on a different level, and to break up the routine periodically.


This is a great way to encourage children to not only think of unique questions, but to ask the questions themselves with the (generally) kind and helpful person at the information (welcome) desk (they could ask about tours of the library, or what the library hours are). There are tons of questions to ask about a library, which in turn gives kids the opportunity to be inquisitive, and think deeper about things they may want to know or learn more about. Start with the smiling face at the information desk at your public library facility.


Nowadays, there is no more “card catalog,” like the ones we had back in the day. But, it’s a fun way to teach our children (and learn ourselves) how to use the modern way of finding and fetching a library book, using the available customer computers. You can also ask the librarian (#5 above) about the preserved stacks of card catalogs (pictured) because most libraries store the old faithful card system in a nice safe place. Your children will get a kick out of figuring out where to start to borrow a book using only those cards. It’s a great way for us parents to get a laugh on our kids.


Many of our non-homeschooling, not-yet-parents friends and family are missing out on the fact that the local public libraries have HUNDREDS of movies and cds for rent, most of which (the educational rentals) are FREE!!! Yes, Netflix and Redbox have taken over, but lest not forget that the library STILL offers valuable often free entertainment, as well often housing many hard-to-find movies and music classics.


Many of our modern libraries each have unique, often artistic architecture built into the design of the buildings, and/or they contain many actual sculptures and paintings worth viewing (pictured – Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library in Memphis, TN in the children’s books department). Some have arched windows like the historic Victorian era, or stained glass window effects like cathedrals. Taking your own self-guided tour around the library could turn into a field trip followed by a lesson on how to effectively critique art, or just a basic observation excursion to evoke awareness and attention.


After all, libraries are still known for their plethora of BOOKS! So why wouldn’t they have book clubs? Many of them have year ’round book clubs, summer book clubs, book clubs for women, men, teens, kids. Reading can be fun, and many libraries encourage youngsters to read over the summer by offering prizes for a certain amount of time or books read.


Libraries often host book signings, workshops, seminars, and other activities for all ages, groups, nationalities, and backgrounds. It’s a matter of being aware that such information is readily available at the library, and tapping into that vein of information regularly. And, most of the seminars and workshops are F-R-E-E!

Bonus – Book Store

One bonus at our main library (Memphis) is that there’s a wonderfully stocked, gently used books store. This bonus may not be free if you choose to purchase books here, but the prices are unbelievable. They often stock fairly new books that avid readers donate to the bookstore shortly after purchasing elsewhere, and the library’s bookstore sells them at unbelievably affordable prices. If nothing else, you can easily get lost in the quaint, cozy store just from browsing alone, no purchase necessary. 🙂

There you have it! Ten-plus reasons to take a closer look at the diamond in the rough that’s been patiently waiting to be re-discovered and cherished in a different way. You’re in the drivers seat now. Let’s see if you can take/make the best of your front seat access to one of the greatest facilities in your town, your wonderfully quaint LIBRARY!

In the comments section below, let us know how you and your family utilize the library. Remember to friend and follow us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for the latest homeschool and art education articlessweet treats, and Dilly Days. Enjoy!

-Deidra L. Tolliver

This article was originally published on being used on Homeschooling in Memphis blog with permission.

Deidra L. Tolliver is a regular contributor for Homeschooling in Memphis blog. Before graduating summa cum laude from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree concentrating in Graphic Design, Deidra studied, tutored, and taught art lessons at her church, high school, and college. Since college, she has served as graphic artist at local firms, retired in 2005 to become a homeschool educator, met many homeschool supporters who encouraged her to share her passion for art & education with others, and now works on her family’s blog, “” in which she and her family share many ideas on how to incorporate both art and education into just about any item, project, subject, or activity.

2 thoughts on “Homeschooling Treasures Right Under Your Nose

  1. Oh wow what a wonderful library you have!! We have a pretty good one here in Owensboro, Ky as well. I never thought of a few of the field trip ideas. Thank you so much for sharing. My daughter Chloe has autism and the library is her favorite place to go.


  2. I’m SO GLAD you were inspired by the article! I absolutely LOVE the serenity of the library, and the idea that the information provided there for us is an endless supply is SO AMAZING! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I’m so glad we were able to encourage you and your daughter to enjoy the library in a different way. 🙂


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