Passionate About Pittsburgh
and the Moms Who Live Here

Summer Reading: Great Library Activities

I’ve previously written about some great kids’ book series as well as some of our family’s favorite single books for kids.  Still need some ideas to get your kids interested in reading?  Here are three more ways to get the whole family involved through your local library.

Battle of the Books

This program is usually aimed at kids in grades 4-12.  The basic premise is that an age-appropriate reading list is provided by the library, including both new books and classics that are likely to appeal to a wide audience.  Kids form teams of up to five students who divide and conquer the reading list as they see fit over the course of several weeks.  Teams also make their own t-shirts or costumes and choose a team name.  All of the teams then meet in the Battle, where they answer detailed questions about each book in a Jeopardy!-style format to accumulate points.  There are several rounds of questions and sometimes even a tiebreaker round, with one team of kids ultimately declared the winner. 

My daughter has participated in this program for the past four years through Sewickley Public Library.  This past year, there were more than 30 teams participating in her age group, with some teams coming from as far away as McKeesport! 


Team Beauty and the Books at the Battle of the Books 2016 .


The girls clearly had a lot of fun!


Sleepover at the Library

For little ones, many libraries have a stuffed animal friend sleepover.  Kids bring a special stuffed friend and have a party, play some games, and read some books – and then they tuck their friend in for a night at the library.  The kids go home and then return the following morning to see what “adventures” their stuffed friend had, which are sometimes even documented by pictures!  Other libraries have the stuffed animal “work” on a special present for their kid owner to find in the morning.  Too cute!!

Stuffed friends making s’mores at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater library sleepover. Image available at


Stuffed animal card game at the Huntington Public Library sleepover. Image available at


For older kids, some libraries host an actual sleepover.  Our entire family slept over at Northland Public Library a few years ago, where we played games, watched movies, made new friends and slept between the stacks.  We even got our pictures in the local paper!  My kids still talk about it when we visit the library.

With my daughter at the Northland Public Library sleepover in 2012. Picture courtesy of TribLive.


My husband and son at the Northland Public Library sleepover. Picture courtesy of TribLive.


Hear the Author Lecture

In collaboration with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series brings all kinds of authors and illustrators into town for discussions and lectures.  For past three years, at least one children’s author has been included on the schedule.  What a great way for kids to hear about how their favorite stories were dreamed up!  So far, my kids have heard R. J. Palacio (the author of the Wonder series, one of our family’s favorite books), Kate DiCamillo (author of the hugely popular Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Desperaux and one of my daughter’s personal heroes), and Chris Colfer (author of The Land of Stories series and star of the television show Glee).  They were intrigued by each one, and the experience inspired them to read all of the books written by each author.   Tickets are reasonably priced and often include a chance to meet the author and have him or her sign a copy of their books.  Join the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures email list here:


My daughter meeting R. J. Palacio, the author of Wonder, in 2014.

We also view these kinds of events as opportunities to expose our kids to some of the cultural parts of Pittsburgh, as the lectures are often in theaters or other public forums.

There’s so much fun to be had at your local libraries.  Happy reading, everyone!







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