Summer Boredom Busters Courtesy of Mr. Dewey's Decimals

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“Mom, I’m bored.” These dreaded words tend to echo around our house more and more as summer lengthens into July and August. Often followed with a request to play video games, no matter how many times I have told them no. My resolve to help my kids embrace boredom tends to be at it’s strongest in June. But my kids are persistent and by mid-July and August, their resolve for playdates with Mario begins to make me seriously question my resistance. 

I will often prescribe a list of ideas to cure their boredom woes. Read a book. Go play outside. Would you like a chore? Rarely are my suggestions met with enthusiasm. And when it’s the 304th time I’ve suggested the same tired ideas, we all sigh at my lack of creativity.  

Recently I had an epiphany. I don’t know that it will chase the boredom from their lives permanently, but it definitely provides more options with the potential to push them away from Mario towards more creative endeavors and strengthen my resolve against video games closer to the end of July. 

It started when I remembered a set of books I had as a kid that I would visit when I didn’t know what else to do. It was a set of encyclopedia-type books (remember those?) created for kids called Childcraft. There were 15 or so volumes covering a wide range of topics. 

The volumes covered topics like Stories and Fables, World and Space, About  Animals, How We Get Things Done and my favorite Make and Do. I remember spending a good chunk of time looking through these tomes hoping to be inspired with ideas of what to do next. The Make and Do volume was filled with art and craft ideas. Sometimes I would try to make something from the book, but sometimes it was simply enough to imagine what I might do. The books truly were a springboard for my imagination whether I followed through with the projects or not. 

I still have that set of Childcraft volumes on my bookshelf. I rescued them from my  parent’s storage room years ago. While my kids don’t spend much time in them, I love having that piece of my childhood sitting on my shelves.  And, that is where my epiphany began. 

My kids may not be inspired by Childcraft, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something similar out there waiting to push the boredom out. When we go to the library, we spend the majority of our time in the fiction section rarely moving into the nonfiction area, except for the occasional search for biographies.

My Childcraft-inspired epiphany begged the question, “Why wasn’t I utilizing the nonfiction area more!” This section is not simply a collection of books of fact, it is filled with subjects that inspire kids to make, learn and do. 

My next trip to the library began with a quick meeting with my friend Dewey Decimal. Thanks to his direction my book bag was filled to bursting with books in a matter of minutes. I found books filled with science experiments, books filled with all kinds of crafts including how to best utilize a cardboard box, how to make balloon animals, and one filled with paper craft ideas. I found books instructing readers how to draw, how to make a movie, and how to create their own comic strip. 

You might be reading this and think, “Duh!” but for some reason I had forgotten about the great number of potential boredom busters contained within the nonfiction section of my library. 

Depending on what your kids are interested in, or might be interested in, the ideas are endless. Armed with the magical dewey decimal number of whatever subject they like best, you can find a plethora of books shelved conveniently together for you to peruse, pluck and bring home so that the next time they yell, “I’m Bored,” you will be armed and ready with another strategy of defense. 

If you need a few Dewey Decimal numbers to check, I’ve listed my favorites that will lead you to sections of the library that are especially good at busting boredom:


030: World Record books

400s: Languages

500:  Science experiments

600-609:  Inventions

620s: Engineering

636: Pets and farm animals

641:  Cooking

646: Sewing, clothing, costume design, Hair etc.

688:  Legos

741.5: Cartooning

743: How to Draw

745 and 746: Crafts

793-795: Games

818: Jokes and Riddles

Inspired? If you’d like a printout to help you discover the wealth of material in the nonfiction section of your library, click here for a pdf for you from me to print for free (Poetry: 821).

With the help of Mr. Dewey and your local library, may the echo of “I’m Bored” lead your kids to creative play and, well, creating all summer long!


What are some boredom busters you find effective with your family, book-related or otherwise?