A love of libraries: library activities for young learners

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There are lots of exciting ways to end the school term or start a holiday course. One of them is taking young learners to your local or school library. In our series about libraries, we will guide you through some activities you can do to help young learners explore and learn about libraries. The earlier children learn to feel confident in libraries, the more they will want to return to these places.

Helbling Readers Catalogue 2018 cover illustration by Gabriella Giandelli. © Helbling Languages

1 Get comfortable

Some children might already know a lot about libraries because they visit them regularly with their family. Before the visit, ask students what they expect upon arrival. Those children who are already familiar with these places can help you with this. Talk about the following questions.

  • Where do you have to leave your bags and coats?
  • Can you take your bags inside the library?
  • What is a library card?
  • Who will help you with finding books?

2 Library tour

Upon arrival, walk around the library with your students. Show them the lockers or the cloakroom, the bathrooms, the buffet. These areas make the visit more like a tour in someone’s home. Then show the children the circulation desk, the reading room and the shelves. Some libraries might have special rooms for listening to music, studying, reading magazines and if your library is in the school, it might have comfortable reading and relaxing corners.

3 Library quiz

Before writing these questions, have a quick chat with your school or local librarian. Then, prepare worksheets for every student or group of students. The children who guess the closest answers can win a bookmark or a sticker.

  1. How many rooms are there in the library?
  2. How many librarians work in the library?
  3. What are the opening hours of the library?
  4. How many books are there in the library?
  5. How many books can you borrow on one occassion?
  6. How long can you keep a book?
  7. How many readers does the library have?

4 Arranging books

Select about 15-20 books from various authors and genres. Students can work in pairs or groups and arrange the books in alphabetical order. You can make this activity more challenging by asking the students to group the books, for example poetry, tales, books about history, geography, architecture.

5 Exploring the shelves

Students can start exploring the stock and the shelves alone or in pairs. You can describe the library shelves as a huge labyrinth where you can see signs that help you find your way. Ask students to walk around and find as many of these signs as they can. Each pair can explore a different area in the library. They can take notepads and write down the signs and then report to each other.

6 Learning about books

Learning about the parts of a book can help the students make predictions about the books and choose the right one for their needs. Start this activity by teaching the basic words of the parts of a book: front cover, back cover, spine, blurb. Show them that the cover should always contain information about the author, the title and the cover illustration will probably give suggestions about the story. Then, ask the students to go and pick a book that they like and complete these sentences to describe the book. They should focus on the covers and the blurb.

  • I like the book because it looks nice / it has a nice cover / its author has a funny name.
  • The title of the book is …
  • On the front cover we can see …
  • The blurb says …

7 Treasure hunt

Depending on the available books in the library, you can write books similar to these questions. Each worksheet should containt 5-10 questions so that children can complete them in 20-30 minutes.

  • Which author wrote the book Matilda?
  • How many pages are there in the book …..?
  • Find the heaviest book in the library.
  • Find the shortest book in the library.
  • How many chpaters are there in the book …?
  • What is the name of the first chapter in the book …?
  • What types of books can be found next to the books about History?
  • Find a book about animals.
  • Find a book about medieval history.
  • Find a book about oceans.
  • Describe the character on the cover of the book ….
  • Who wrote the book …?
  • Who illustrated the book …?
  • How many English language dictionaries can you find in the library?

Do you have any fun activities for young learners in the library?

Read more in our series on libraries:

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