Resources for Family Engagement from the Library of Congress
We invite you and your family to participate in these activities, inspired by the collections, programs, and expertise of the Library of Congress.
Dav Pilkey at Home
Watch author and illustrator Dav Pilkey share drawing tips and hear him read aloud from his work in this series of videos, produced in collaboration with Scholastic.
Jason Reynolds: GRAB THE MIC
Jason Reynolds, the seventh National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, shares his passion for storytelling through newsletters and videos.
Best of the National Book Festival for Kids & Teens
Find recordings of past events paired with writing and thinking prompts to explore the author's work.
The activities below require just a few simple items you can find easily around the house and items from the Library's website. Kids are encouraged to use their creativity to enhance, adapt, or recreate anything we share. Check back often for new activities and opportunities with engage with us!
Cooking Up History [PDF 150KB]
The Library's collections include thousands of cookbooks and recipes, including Thomas Jefferson's recipe for macaroni and for ice cream, cookbooks dating as far back as the 16th century, and even Rosa Parks's recipe for "featherlite pancakes". Recreate a recipe from 100 years ago preserved in Chronicling America, the Library's searchable database of historic newspapers.
Make a Cartonera [PDF 125KB]
Cartoneras are hand-painted books with cardboard covers that appeared in the early 2000s as a response to an economic crisis in Argentina. Create one based on cartoneras held in the Library's Hispanic Division. For older children, use the stitching instructions from the Make a Mini-Book activity on this page as the binding for your cartonera.
Puppet Power [PDF 347KB]
Using puppets in storytelling can help children of many ages and abilities to develop literacy skills such as decoding and building vocabulary. Use inspiration from the Library’s collections to create a puppet show at home. These two activities demonstrate how to create stick puppets and a shadow theater based on traditional Chinese shadow puppetry.
Remembering Rosa Parks [PDF 351KB]
Shortly after the death of civil rights activist Rosa Parks, letterpress artist Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr. began a print series featuring quotes by Parks. The Library's Prints and Photographs Division holds a number of Kennedy's works, which are the inspiration for this activity.
Be a Comic Creator [PDF 188KB]
Did you know that the Library of Congress holds over 140,000 issues of comics, the largest publicly-available collection of comic books in the United States? Use the Library's comic collection as inspiration for becoming your own comic creator!
Design Your Own Lighthouse [PDF 360KB]
Draw inspiration from images and architectural drawings from the Library's collections to design and build your own lighthouse.
Make a Mini-Book [PDF 393KB]
Our preservation and conservation staff combine science and art as they work to maintain our collections for years to come. Make a mini-book while learning a simple stitch that forms the basis of more complex work that our book conservators do.
Watch this demonstration for step-by-step instructions:
Readers Theater [PDF 733KB]
This activity is based on a practice of dramatizing text using voice expression, drawing on radio scripts in the Library’s collections. Readers theater provides opportunities to incorporate multiple voices and sound effects and to have fun together. This activity kit was written by Echo Rue, a 2021 Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress.
Make Your Own Geographic Information System [PDF 170KB]
Geographic information systems (GIS) is a technological method to compile, organize, analyze, and visualize geographic data. Create your own GIS layers and practice the basics of GIS mapping.
Preserving Family Stories [PDF 263KB]
Find suggestions for recording family stories using oral history collections and resources from the American Folklife Center.
UnLOCk the Box: Sanborn Maps [PDF 286KB]
Using clues from a map of Washington, DC from 1888, kids will reveal a code to unlock a box of treasures. The UnLOCk the Box design (PDF 227KB), included in this PDF, was created by Dr. Kellie Taylor, 2018-2019 Albert Einstein Fellow at the Library of Congress.
UnLOCk the Box: The Culper Code [PDF 126KB]
Using the Culper Code developed during the Revolutionary War, kids will UnLOCk a box full of treasures, then use the code to create their own secret message. The UnLOCk the Box design (PDF 227KB), included in this PDF, was created by Dr. Kellie Taylor, 2018-2019 Albert Einstein Fellow at the Library of Congress.
Color Our Collections: Japanese Woodblock Prints [PDF 564KB]
The Library's Prints and Photographs Division houses more than 2,500 Japanese woodblock prints and drawings. Color these outline examples of animals, people, and landscape scenes then compare your work with the original. (All ages)
Color Our Collections: Thomas Jefferson Building [PDF 3.4MB]
Explore images of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building external link, which includes the Main Reading Room and the Great Hall. Then, use your imagination to recreate the exterior with this coloring page. (All ages)
Color Our Collections: Minerva Mosaic [PDF 5MB]
View images of this mosaic of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of learning and wisdom from the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Great Hall, then color your own with this coloring page. (All ages)
Color Our Collections: WPA Posters [PDF 2.6MB]
The Works Progress Administration was a New Deal program established in 1935. The Library holds posters produced by WPA branches to publicize exhibits, community activities, theatrical productions, and health and educational programs. Explore the collections then color these outline examples.
Fun with Braille
Introduce children to braille with coloring and word matching games from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress. (Ages 6-8)
Take a Nature Walk with Walt Whitman [PDF 212KB]
Let the words of poet Walt Whitman inspire kids' curiosity on a nature walk. The Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress holds a collection of Whitman's papers. (Ages 5-8)
Read Across the Library [PDF 1.1MB]
Can you read across the largest library in the world? Download this “bingo-style” game board and use the suggestions here to challenge kids to read across the wide variety of collections at the Library of Congress.
Puzzle Package [PDF 3MB]
Brainteasers abound in the Library’s database of digitized historical newspapers, Chronicling America. This activity kit highlights a few, but if you’re just looking for more mind-twisters, be sure to check out blog posts from the Library’s Serial and Government Publications Division with mazes, rebuses and hidden pictures.
More Online Resources for Kids and Families
My Job at the LibraryWho works at the Library? Read stories from people who make the Library work and how they got here
Read.govFind classic books, book lists, book reviews by the Library's teen board, and author videos
Everyday MysteriesWhy does a camel have a hump?
Why do our joints pop?
Learn the answers to these & many other mysteries of science
Today in HistoryFind out what occurred on a date in history and why it mattered
Aesop for ChildrenDownload an interactive book with over 140 classic fables, accompanied by illustrations and interactive animations.
Veterans History ProjectHear stories of veterans from WWI through present conflict
Find a field guide for conducting an interview with veterans
View bedtime stories from Goodnight with Dolly External and Imagination Library story times at the Library of Congress. Imagination Library is a 2014 Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree.
Stay in Touch!
We'd love to hear from you!
- Find activity ideas and connect with us on our blog for families, Minerva’s Kaleidoscope.
- Share your feedback on these resources or others you'd like to see at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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