How to Do a Library Scavenger Hunt Your Kids Will Love

Do your kids recognize your local library from the outside, but not the inside?

Has your family forgotten all the interesting things that a library can hold?

If your kids are like mine, you likely hear a round of “Awwww, Mom!” when you suggest a trip to the library to find some books.

But the public library can be a goldmine of fun discoveries for your curious little ones—not to mention a great outing when the weather is bad.

In this article I’ll show you how to explore your local library with your kids through a fun, engaging game they will adore.

Library scavenger hunt: how to explore your local library with your kids through a fun, engaging game they will adore.

Why a Library Scavenger Hunt?

As parents, we know the value of reading and developing a love of books. But sometimes getting your kids to appreciate the world of books can take a bit of creativity.

By introducing a game where your kids compete against each other and earn points for discovering library resources, you can gently nudge them into the world of literature without being pushy.

A Library Scavenger Hunt will give your kids a reason to explore your local library in a way that they never have before. Hopefully along the way, they’ll discover some gems that they didn’t know the library possessed.

bookshelf

Be prepared for distractions as your kids forget the Treasure Hunt and find books they like. This Lego book came home with us.

Plus, it’s a good way to remind kids that the Internet isn’t the only place to look for valuable information!

You Will Need

  • Pencil for each player or team
  • A copy of the Library Scavenger Hunt List for each player or team

Preparation Time

It should take you just a few minutes to print out the Treasure Hunt List

Activity Time

It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to find all of the things on the list

Location

Your local public library

magazines

Your child will discover reading material in the eye-catching magazine section that they normally would not be exposed to.

Read on for a fun way to teach your kids about their local library.

#1: Download the List

Before you go, download the Library Scavenger Hunt List (PDF) and print out a copy for each player or team.

I created the list to lead your family through all sections of your local library. I was able to sneak a little handwriting practice in, too.

library scavenger hunt list

Give each player or team a list that will help them discover all that the library has to offer.

They’ll be prompted to discover different types of books and media, talk to a librarian, seek out resources and rooms they may not know about and even find the bathrooms.

pointing to book

While some Scavenger Hunt tasks are a challenge, your child will brag that items such as finding the nonfiction section is “soooo easy!”

#2: Talk About It

Preface your trip to the library with some questions to get your kids thinking and talking about what to expect.

  • What kinds of things do you think we will find at the library that we did not know were there?
  • What do they have at the library besides books?
  • Do you think there are any types of books the library doesn’t have?

You could even talk about how libraries are different from when you were a kid, thanks to changes in technology.

finding book location on computer

Your preteen may be interested in figuring out where the Teen section of your library is.

Feel free to stop talking about card catalogs and microfiche readers after the first eye roll or “Awww, Mom!”

#3: Split Into Teams

Decide whether you want to search as one big group, as individuals or in teams. Preteens like to fly solo. Teams work well for kids ages 8 and up. Make sure younger kids are paired up with an adult, older child or teen.

Give each group a Library Scavenger Hunt List and instruct them to stick together as a team to find each item on the list.

child exploring programs on library computer

Kids will enjoy the chance to explore how the programs on the library’s computer are different than at home.

You can simplify the game for younger kids by allowing them to check items off the list without filling in the blanks.

#4: Remember “Library Manners”

Although libraries are fairly kid-friendly places, the excitement that comes with hunting and discovering can often bring voices above a whisper that disturb other people. Emphasize that the library is a no-running, quiet voices place to make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

puzzle for kids

In addition to books, libraries usually have games and activities for a wide age range.

Announce that points will be subtracted every time a team has to be reminded to slow down or be quiet in the library.

#5: Warn the Librarian About Your Activity

Even the best-behaved youngsters will attract attention when they excitedly search for items around the library. It’s good to let your librarian know what your kids are up to.

child reading

By browsing through the picture book section your kids are likely to find some to bring home.

Warn the staff that your treasure hunters may be asking them a few questions. Unless they’re extremely busy, they’ll probably be happy to play along.

Your children’s librarian may be willing to offer the kids a prize such as a sticker or a stamp.

#6: Ready, Set, Go!

Set a time limit (say half an hour) and let them loose.

checking items off list

Kids enjoy the chance to earn points as they search and can add up their total.

Your kids will have lots of fun as they learn new things about the library and check items off the list.

#7: Celebrate!

Whether your kids have broken into teams or completed the treasure hunt alone, it’s fun to celebrate afterwards with a special treat. Be sure to reward the winner(s) with a little something extra, such as sprinkles on their ice cream rather than a plain scoop.


Celebrating at the library.

Your celebration will give you a chance to chat about the experience with your kids. Ask them what they liked and what they learned; what was hard to find and what surprised them.

While discussing the library treasure hunt, you can give yourself a few extra points if you bring up some of the library trivia below.

Cool and Wacky Library Trivia:

  • How many libraries are there in the United States? About 120,000
  • What is the largest library in the United States and how many volumes (i.e., books) does it have? The Library of Congress with over 35 million books!
  • What did some of the first libraries have instead of books? Clay tablets! (Libraries were started even before paper was invented.)
  • How small is the smallest printed book? The smallest printed book was made in Japan and has 22 pages that are just .75 millimeters. That is even smaller than an eye of a needle!
  • What was the highest library fine ever paid? $345 for a book that had been lost for 47 years!
  • How long is the longest book title in the world? The book was printed in India and the title had 1,086 words!

Sources:

Some Final Thoughts

Once your Library Scavenger Hunt is over, I hope that you and your kids will leave the library with not just a memory, but also a few checked-out books or magazines in your arms and a plan to visit again.

Maybe next time you can bring a friend, make some changes to the list and play again. What a fun play date and a great way to introduce even more kids to their local library!

What do you think? Every library is a little bit different. Does your library have any other gems to discover? What would you add to the Scavenger Hunt? Ask your kids what they would add. I’d love to hear their creative ideas. Please leave a comment or a picture of your library adventure.

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About the Author, Christina Kettman

When she is not exploring the Seattle area with her kids, Christina works with small businesses to market their companies online. She also enjoys blogging at Marketing Staircase. Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Christina! What a great way to introduce kids to parts of the library beyond the kids section. I like that you’ve made the scavenger hunt so hands-on so they get practice talking to the librarian, checking out a book, etc. Sounds like a fun way to learn some important skills.

  • Christina Kettman

    Thanks Jennifer. I think kids get so used to being quiet in the library that they forget the whole library can be a fun and interesting place to explore. Giving them a checklist in hand helps to encourage them to check out the “non-kid” sections.

  • Karen at MomAgain@40

    Great idea! Thanks!

  • Dianne Grob

    This is great! Are you going to be doing this regularly? With winter coming, I can use creative suggestions for Indoor activities with my kids.

  • Christina Kettman

    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I am sure there will be more creative indoor activities like these to get kids (and their parents) through the winter months!

  • Mary

    Thank you – I love this and am putting it on our “to do” list.

  • Christina Kettman

    Glad to hear it, Mary. And don’t forget that you can try it at multiple libraries if you have more than one in your area. In our experience, each library had a different layout and it was fun to discover what made each one unique.

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