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Parents! Smart Fun for Kids

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Student learning to use a sextant at a Los Angeles high school, 1942. Photo: Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division.

The Library has millions of resources online – including some of history’s most important manuscripts, photographs, maps, recordings and films – to help teachers, parents and students learn about the world around us.

These include general exhibits you can dip into, such as “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words,”  “Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight For The Vote,” and “Mapping a Growing Nation: From Independence to Statehood.

We’ll be highlighting more of these during the coming weeks, so check back often.

Meanwhile! Parents, to start us off, here are some great ideas from the Library’s Center for Learning, Literacy and Engagement staff for everyone at the house.

All ages: 

Record a family story.

  • Download the StoryCorps app to record family histories. It’s great for building an oral history of your household. StoryCorps will walk you through the process, including suggested questions and interview tips. StoryCorps recordings are archived at the Library’s American Folklife Center.
  • Create an “exquisite corpse” story or poem. Jon Scieszka, the 2008-09 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, started the Library’s own “The Exquisite Corpse Adventure” and had an all-star cast of fellow authors (Kate Dicamillo, Katherine Paterson, Lemony Snicket, etc.) fill in the 27 chapters.  Here’s how to play: Players construct a story by stringing together disconnected sentences or phrases. It creates a “Frankenstein’s monster” type of tale, hence the “corpse” moniker. It can be as silly or serious as the players make it. First, find a photograph in the Library’s online catalog or use one of these suggested images from photographer Gordon Parks. (If you’d rather, select a family photo.) Gather players in a circle to examine the photograph. One person starts by writing a line or sentence about the image. They pass the paper to the person to their right. In turn, that person writes a second line of text — but before passing the paper, they hide all the preceding sentences, so that no player sees anything but the preceding sentence. Continue this until each person has written three lines. Then, voila! Read the entire creation aloud.

Elementary & Middle: 

Read aloud a classic children’s book.

Read and write in braille.

  • Want to learn how to read with your fingers? Introduce your kids to the basics of braille with the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS). NLS is free for people with temporary or permanent visual impairment that prevents them from reading or holding a page. The NLS is part of the Library and can teach you how to get started.

Write a letter to Rosa Parks.

  • Read about Rosa Parks’ life in her own words in our online exhibition. Then, have children create a card or letter, imagining they are sending it to Mrs. Parks, using kids’ letters like these as inspiration. Mrs. Parks loved children and met with them often. What would you say to the mother of the civil rights movement?

Be a Kid Citizen!

Explore Everyday Mysteries.

High School

  • Get a leg up on your research projects with advice from Library experts. Use our LibGuides to find resources on topics ranging from film and music to veterinary science and much more. It’s a near-endless list of information and can take you as deep into a subject as you’d like to go.

Find poetic inspiration from our Poetry and Literature Center.

  • Former U.S.Poet Laureate Billy Collins selected a poem for each day of the school year.
  • Former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith’s daily poetry podcast is called “The Slowdown.” In just five minutes, she presents a poem, breaks it down into engaging segments and explains how it works.

Mess around with LCLabs!

  • Our experimental digital team has created online projects that allow you to explore the Library by colors, play photo roulette, transcribe and tag documents from the collection and more. Try one then tell us what you think. Email comments to [email protected].

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  1. I love this post! I’m a children’s librarian in Idaho and I’m looking for ways that families can engage in LOC content. Keep it coming! Thank you all.

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