Photos courtesy of North Central Regional Library
Kids will find all kinds of things to help them explore and understand nature in backpacks provided by the North Central Regional Library.

Kids interested in getting an up-close view of nature — with binoculars, a magnifying glass, and identification cards and a nature book to help explain what they’ve found — can get a backpack of supplies for free from the local library.

North Central Regional Library is expanding its backpack program to the entire library system after testing it in Winthrop and Wenatchee over the summer. Kids can check out a backpack for up to two weeks. In addition to binoculars, a magnifying glass and identification materials, the backpacks contain a compass, trail maps, an insect catcher, measuring tape, a thermometer, and colored pencils to record observations in a journal.

Kids — particularly those who are being home-schooled — were particularly excited about the backpacks, said Rita Anderson, a substitute librarian in Winthrop.

There are more than 50 backpacks available throughout the library system. Libraries including Winthrop will have them as part of their regular collection, but people can request them at any library and pick them up in Twisp or at other branches.

Children under the age of 16 will need a permission slip from a parent or guardian to be able to check out the backpacks.