Why an Animal Can’t Borrow a Library Book

This Thursday was one of the sunniest days Iowa City has seen all year, and I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon at Fairmeadows Park soaking up the rays and hanging out with some IYWP kids.

Fairmeadows is just one of the parks where the Bookmobile will be this summer. Officially called the Antelope Lending Library, the Bookmobile is literally a library on wheels. It was so exciting to see the inside for the first time. Imagine an RV with floor to ceiling bookshelves on both walls. Now, that’s my idea of camping!

Want to find out more about the Antelope Lending Library? Check out this CBS2 NEWS STORY!

When the Bookmobile goes to a park, it brings more than just books. Before the kids go explore the Bookmobile, IYWP volunteers help them complete a fun literacy activity based off a book from our library. Yesterday, this schedule was good thing because most of the kids were soaked from playing in the sprinklers of Fairmeadows’ newly opened Splash Pad. As the kids dripped dry at a picnic table, Cassandra explained what alliteration was.

Then Cassandra read from a National Geographic Little Kids book called African Animal Alphabet. Serendipitously, the animal that corresponded with the letter A was an antelope! The kids were excited to point out the A words used to describe antelopes, the B words used to describe baboons, and the C words used to describe cheetahs.


After we read about some more animals, we used alliteration to explain why animals cannot check out library books. One girl wrote, “A PUPPY can’t check out a library book because it would PUT its PAWS on the PAGES.” One boy explained, “A HORSE can’t check out a library book because it would HAVE a party in the Bookmobile.” Everyone drew a picture of the animal they described.

As each kid finished the activity, they got to go browse for books in the bookmobile. One boy took home a Thomas the Tank Engine book and another girl took home a book about cats.

I was so impressed with how smoothly everything went. At first, only three children were sitting down to listen to Cassandra read. However, about the time those three kids had finished the activity, a few more came over to inquire what the Bookmobile was. The Johnson County Neighborhood Center counselor did a great job encouraging the kids to try the activity before they explored the Bookmobile. I stayed at the picnic table as kids cycled through, while Cassandra helped kids pick out books in the Bookmobile. Because Cassandra had provided a simple worksheet, it was easy to explain the activity multiple times with just a few instructions.

One of IYWP’s strengths is its willingness to adapt to its environment. Organization wide, we try to provide whatever kind of programming best suits our collaborators. Yesterday, at Fairmeadows Park, that meant waiting for kids to come to us, instead of forcing them to be on our schedule. Sometimes it is more difficult to be flexible than others, of course, but it is a wonderful feeling when IYWP can accommodate the needs of the kids on their terms.

I would encourage children of all ages to come have fun with IYWP and Antelope Lending Library from 2-3 on Thursdays at Fairmeadows Park! All of our programing is open to the public!

Once you’ve chosen your books from the Bookmobile, you can read under a shady tree or run through the Splash Pad. What a great way to spend a sunny afternoon!


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