A suburban library is so much more than a place to borrow books. It’ll soon become your third space (you have home, school…and your library).
By Danielle Braff
These suburban libraries offer free kids’ classes, toys, games and much more. Here are the libraries to check out.
Evanston Public Library
Evanston has three public libraries, but our fave is the main branch, which is the largest and has the best space for kids. They host tons of classes for the youngest set, ranging from storytimes to drop-off storytimes (AKA solo time for parents) to therapy dog reading sessions and a Storytelling Festival.
Arlington Heights Memorial Library
This library is huge. Ridiculously, luxuriously huge. And nearly all of its first floor is the designated kids’ area. There’s a theater for kids to put on their own puppet shows, there are blocks to play with, there are sensory walls to feel and there are tons of traveling exhibits which change all the time. Plan ahead to attend bilingual storytimes, movie nights and more.
Oak Park Public Library
Oak Park has three public libraries, and they work together to create a monthly newsletter/ calendar with all their listings. And oh, there are so many. Each month, they have recurring kids’ programming which includes coding for kids, improv, storytime, arts and crafts and more. The main library lends American Girl Dolls to anyone with an Oak Park or River Forest library card, and they have tons of regular dolls to play with if you just want to hang out there.
Downers Grove Library
There’s so much for kids to do here that you barely need toys in your own home. There’s a dollhouse, a train table, blocks, puzzles, a magnetic wall with all sorts of learning magnets, a pretend cafe and more. There are daily storytimes, family movie nights, Lego groups, STEM activities and family game days.
This is the second-largest public library in all of Illinois, and they’ve really invested a lot in the children’s section. There’s an enchanted forest that is akin to a leather-filled reading room filled with every book you could ever want—for adults. Events for kids range from storytimes to art classes to family game times—and they’ve got plenty to do for the teens, too: Saturday afternoon at the movies, arts & crafts and more.
Barrington Area Library
Skip the children’s museum and go directly to this library. There’s a Lego room complete with Lego walls, a pretend supermarket/bakery/construction area, a magnetic chalkboard and foam blocks. There’s even an interactive floor that lights up when you step on it and a tunnel slide. Older kids can reserve the game room so they can play board games or video games sans interruption. There are typically at least four children’s events daily here, ranging from the Lego club to the art play to slime time.
Consistently ranked one of the top libraries in the country, this is filled with kids, tween and teen events so your child will never be bored. There’s a year-round kids’ reading program, a Battle of the Books Book Club, family movie nights, storytimes for all different ages, Stem games, tween camps and more.
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