Summer is one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Here we offer a compilation of activities and resources to enjoy the summer holiday.

Free Library Fun:

Summer Reading!
Read for fun and to win prizes this summer. Our theme this year is about exploring and getting outdoors!

Teens entering 6th through 12th grade are welcome to come hang out, create independent projects with art supplies, get to know the makerspace equipment, use the tablets and laptops, and more! Or pick up a STEAM-based Makerspace activity minikit at any Multnomah County library. All materials are included. 

Events & Programs!
Keep an eye on our Events page for upcoming summer programs for the whole family!


Free activities throughout Multnomah County:

Fairview’s Flicks in the Park
Free family movies at Fairview’s Community Park.

Gresham Arts Festival
Celebrate the arts at the 20th annual Gresham Arts Festival in downtown Gresham. Featuring artists from the Pacific Northwest, a kids corner, local cuisine, treats and beverages.

Gresham’s Summer Kids in the Park (SKIP)
Free activities and lunch in some Gresham parks.

Interactive Fountains and Splash Pads
All of Portland’s Interactive fountains should be on by mid-May. Also check out Gresham’s Children’s Fountain

Kids Bowl Free
Sign-up your kids for 2 free games of bowling each day this summer at one of the participating bowling centers.

Parks & Rec
Visit parks in Fairview, Gresham, Portland, Troutdale and Wood Village. A couple parks we want to highlight are Gabriel Park with its new inclusive playground for all abilities, and Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park with its new renovated playground area. 

Portland’s Summer Free for All 
Portland Parks and Recreation is back with a full schedule for 2022 - concerts, movies, performing arts, plus free lunch and play.

Portland’s Sunday Parkways
Series of free events opening Portland’s streets to walk, bike, roll, and discover.

Troutdale’s Movies in the Park
Family movies shown at Troutdale’s Imagination Station.


Summer lunches and other food resources:

Free Summer Lunches for Kids
Each summer, Oregon offers summer meal sites for children ages 1 to 18. Some programs offer learning activities for children before and after meals. There are several ways to find places to eat in your area. Find a site near you

Meals 4 Kids 
This site helps qualifying children and families within the City of Portland. Please visit their website to complete the form. 

Oregon Food Bank 
Find food near you with this interactive map


Reasonably priced summer fun:

Come Thru Market
Open on 1st and 3rd Mondays May-September, this farmer’s market centers Black and Indigenous Farmers and Makers.  

Farmers' Markets - Multnomah County  
Who knew an ear of corn or fresh tomato could improve your health, your community and the environment, all at the same time? Buying local foods is a simple way to do all three!

Ladybug Walks 
For kids 0-6 and opens on Monday, May 23. Walks are on Monday and Thursday mornings at different locations each week and cost $9 for the first child, $6 for each additional child. Walks feature great age-appropriate environmental science education and kids get to borrow a cute ladybug backpack for the walk.

Portland Indigenous Marketplace 
Features art, jewelry, fashion, food, and wellness and is holding several market weekends throughout the summer.

And take a look at our top 10 from last year for even more ideas!

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

A growing body of research shows that time spent outside is good for you and your family’s mental health and that spending time in nature is a great way to boost everyone’s mood. When you think about it, the human brain is designed for hunting, fishing, climbing trees and collecting food. Humans have, for most of our history, relied on nature and spent most of our time in nature. It’s only “natural” that we would feel at home outdoors! 

Many studies show that people report feelings of peace, contentment, and belonging when in nature. This might be because nature works to reduce the stress of cluttered and attention-demanding indoor environments. With less to focus and concentrate on, most people can relax their brain and truly destress, unlike when they find themselves in an attention-grabbing environment filled with television, phones, and other media. 

And let’s not forget spending time outdoors usually involves exercise, which increases blood flow and oxygen through the body and the brain, resulting in an improved mood and more energy. Exercise also increases “happy” hormones, like serotonin.  

So here are some ideas on how to get outside with your family! 

Grow or pick food: Plant a vegetable garden in your own space or at a shared community garden. And depending on the season, there are many places in and around Multnomah County where you can go and pick-your-own fruits and veggies to enjoy!

Bring nature indoors: Collect natural materials (something kids love to do!) and use them to decorate your space. Or find a place to put chairs where you can look out the window and see the sky and trees (great for rainy days!). You can also grow plants or flowers on your windowsill or even watch a video of nature with your family.

Do outdoor activities: It can be as easy as taking a walk together, maybe with the family dog, or watching the stars after sunset. Maybe eat outdoors (or as Fancy Nancy likes to say, alfresco!). You can also have family exercise outside, by jogging together through a local park, playing tennis at a nearby school or park tennis courts, or doing yoga outside. And if you have a 4th grader in your home, don't forget you can enjoy national parks, lands, and waters for free, for a full year!

Help the environment: Your family can take a monthly walk where you pick up litter or volunteer with groups who help with conservation or building animal habitats. 

Notice nature: Again, something kids are “naturals” at (pun intended). Find things you can touch, smell or hear. Maybe keep a family journal of your experiences. Maybe challenge your family to notice up to three things in nature every day! Or maybe try “Forest Bathing” with a local group

Connect with animals: Watch for wildlife when you are outside. Maybe hang a bird feeder, bat box or mason bee house where the family can watch. Backyard animals are everywhere! Visit a local farm or The Belmont Goats! (Librarian Jen volunteers with The Belmont Goats and they love visitors!) 

More ideas on why, how and where to get started:

Also check out our booklist below for titles about the joy of getting outside.

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

Teacher in front of classroom
Register for Kindergarten by June 1 is an outreach campaign to encourage and support parents to register their child before school offices close for the summer.

Is your child registered for school? Don’t wait—many schools begin registering for kindergarten as early as January for children starting school in the fall. If your child will be 5 years old by September 1, contact your school district, and register for school! 

Centennial School District   (503) 760-7990
Centennial School District - Welcome to Kindergarten Booklet

Corbett School   (503) 695-3636
Corbett School - Kindergarten Enrollment

District David Douglas School District   (503) 252-2900
It's Time to Register for 2022-23 Kindergarten - David Douglas School District

Gresham-Barlow School District   (503) 618-2450
Parent Resources / Kindergarten

Parkrose School District   (503) 408-2100
Parkrose School District - Registration

Portland Public Schools   (503) 916-3205
Portland Public Schools - Register for Kindergarten

Reynolds School District   (503) 661-7200
Reynolds School District - Kindergarten registration

Riverdale School District   (503) 892-0722 
Enrollment Options / Options for Enrollment

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

Graduating student in cap and gown taking selfie with Elder.
The whole wide world is open to you after high school. You can be anything you want! But what choices do you want to make out of the millions available to you? 

There’s an infinite variety of work out there. What matters most to you? Which skills and talents do you already have and which do you want to build? What Color Is Your Parachute for Teens helps narrow down those infinite choices into some concrete steps.  

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is an online database that outlines the skills and education needed for hundreds of careers in a wide variety of fields. It identifies which fields and jobs are growing or shrinking and which jobs are related and how. 

By Oregon law, every school district offers Career and Technical Education programs - Portland Public Schools, Gresham, Centennial, Parkrose, Reynolds, and David Douglas. These include a wide variety of hands-on learning opportunities in class and in the community.  

Hands-on experience in a field can help you figure out if that’s the career for you. Interested in a medical career? Volunteer at OHSU. Interested in Information Technology? Try Free Geek. Interested in social work? Try Oregon Food Bank. Interested in construction? Try The Rebuilding Center. Interested in a career with animals? Try the Zoo or the Audubon Society or the Humane Society. Love the library? Volunteer for us!

If you’re thinking about a business career, De la Salle North Catholic High School offers a work-study program where you can work in a corporate partner office one day a week to pay for your private high school tuition and learn job skills.

If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur, you can start now. Moziah Bridges started making and selling bow ties at age nine and wrote a guide to starting a business at age 17. Mikaila Ulmer started her lemonade stand as a kid and grew it into a multi-million dollar foundation to help save bees by age 15. If those stories inspire you, The Young Adult Library of Small Business and Finance ebook series takes you through making a plan, finding funding, and marketing your business. Librarian Tara wrote a blog post about library resources to use when starting a business.

Many students from all sorts of backgrounds and with all sorts of goals choose to go to college after high school. The library has collected sources of information on financial aid, choosing a college, college admissions, and studying abroad on our College help for teens page.

But with the high cost of college, many people are looking at alternatives. In a survey, more than half of teens said they were not interested in a four-year degree. They’d rather have shorter, job-focused training. And many of those going to college are looking for apprenticeship or internship opportunities.

Many skilled construction trades offer interesting and challenging work with good pay and benefits. Vocational high school programs, like Benson Polytechnic, can get you directly into an apprenticeship. Girls Build offers camps and afterschool programs to encourage girls to enter the building trades.

For those who have already graduated, Oregon Tradewomen offers a Trades and Apprenticeship Careers Class as a first step to learn about construction trades and enter into a paid apprenticeship.  

Portland Youth Builders has two programs: Youth Build combines work toward a high school diploma or GED with vocational training in construction or technology. Or if you’ve already earned a high school diploma or GED, you can enter the nine-week Bridge program that prepares you for a paid apprenticeship and includes career counseling and leadership development.

If you have a disability, you can work with state Vocational Rehabilitation Youth Services as early as age 14 to start building skills, exploring interests, and learning about the supports that can help you find and keep a job. Once you enter your junior year, you’ll start working with your school team to learn about your diploma options and plan your transition into your next steps after high school.

The number of students taking a gap year is up* thanks to the pandemic. For many, a gap year offers time to rest, explore and mature before settling on a major and career. There are pros and cons to a gap year. Some people engage with a gap year program, but many young people take an independent gap year, working full or part time, living away from home for the first time, volunteering at home or abroad, or traveling.

For those with an interest in community service, AmeriCorps has many positions to grow your skills and make a difference. AmeriCorps members serve part time or full time for year-long positions, such as helping run after school programs, teaching cooking classes at the food bank, or helping veterans find affordable housing. The National Civilian Conservation Corps division of AmeriCorps works on hands-on conservation and climate change mitigation projects. Members in either program get a modest monthly stipend and an education award at the end of the year that can go for tuition or paying off student loans.

Still daunted? That’s okay! You’ve got your whole life and a lot to explore. Failing and recovering are part of what makes a great life after high school as much as your successes and achievements. So try something new, muck around, change your mind, and have fun!

*You will need a library card number to access these library databases. You will also need one to place holds on library books and/or check them out. Thankfully, Multnomah County Library has partnered with public school districts to provide students with automatic library accounts. See Library Connect for more information. 

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.

Baby playing with number magnets on a table
It’s good to know that we, as caregivers, don’t need to have a background in statistics, geometry or calculus in order to give our kids a head start in math skills. But you may be asking yourself, does math even matter in the early childhood years?

It does. A child’s math knowledge at the start of kindergarten predicts later academic achievement. Fortunately, young children are born curious and are very tuned-in to the world around them. They notice how things have different sizes, shapes and colors. How things move fast or slow, or go up and down. They notice when someone has more gold fish crackers on the plate than they have.

They learn to recite numbers early on and that is important, but math is much more than counting and numbers. Think of how a child might line up all their stuffed animals against a wall from the shortest to the tallest (measurement). They may put the collection of leaves they gathered during their walk into groups of the same color (classification) or place pretend plates and spoons on the table for a make-believe picnic (representation).  

Young children practice spatial sense, geometry and problem-solving when building with a variety of blocks. They notice and create patterns when drawing or doing crafty art. They experiment with weight and density when noticing what will float and what will sink in the bath or pool.

There are many opportunities during the day to explore math. Adults can assist by being enthusiastic explorers with their child. It’s helpful for a child to hear the vocabulary of math and science during their play or when cooking with the family. When they get to school, words like experiment, estimate, organize, predict will already be familiar to them. Math talk enriches everyday learning experiences for young kids and helps build their self-confidence as future learners.

Here are some more great ideas for you to help your child develop early math skills at home.

Have babies or toddlers? Check out Math in the Bath. (Added bonus, they’ll be squeaky clean at the end of the lesson!)

Have a range of ages in your family? Try these lists of excellent books for all ages.

Have a kid in grades K-5? Check out this cooking class for kids, where we'll talk about measuring, counting and shapes while making delicious snacks!

And in honor of March MATHness, the library is celebrating math with lots of fun booklists:

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at with any questions.