A new public library recently opened up in downtown Norfolk, and since it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from where we live AND it’s been too cold to play outside, I loaded up the kids in the car and we headed over to check it out. The Slover Library just opened last month, and I happen to love things that are new! So in this case, how nice to make it an outing to visit a beautiful building with a huge space on the 2nd floor that’s just for kids.
The Youth library features a play area called “Playscape.” It’s actually a room designated and designed for children ages 0-2, filled with age appropriate stuff to play with – so think everything is padded…blocks in various shapes with small ramps and structures for the babies to crawl and climb up, down, around and over.
My boys had a blast. The playscape room was very clean, inviting and had floor to ceiling clear windows, so parents or caretaker could sit right outside the room and still be able to look in, if they wanted to be hands off with the kids. Yes, there are tons of great books and reading areas outside this room, but I couldn’t manage to get mine away from the “playscape”…that’ll be for the next visit. There’s also another play area outside this room, filled with a pretend kitchen and other toys… but my guys were all about the stacking and building blocks in this room.
So really, I wanted to write this post to remind parents that your local library can be a great resource for getting the kids out of the house. On this outing we didn’t read any books, but you know what, it was FREE, educational – learning through play, and a chance for my kids to interact with similar aged children who probably live in our same area.
If this interests you, I would definitely urge you to look up what programs and offerings are at the local libraries in your neighborhood. I know when we lived in Miami, there was a really great Storytime offered at our branch in Key Biscayne, and I started taking Raef when he was just a few months old. It really is never too early to start bringing them to the library or even getting them their own library card! Plus, I’m sure most libraries have events and programs like a free story time, geared toward different age groups.
We would go on a weekly basis and he would lay there and listen to the story being read, and then we’d also sing songs and have some fun playtime at the end. It was nice to watch him grow up in the program and eventually start sitting up, crawling and playing with the other children who we’d see there every week. I also met lots of great Moms at story time, so I got some “me” time in too!
Reading is so important, and while we do have a great little library at home, it’s always nice to expose them to new environments and stuff that isn’t theirs…you know that’s like a shiny, bright new toy to them! In this day of TV, tablets and internet… I know I had a long stretch of adulthood, where visiting the library wasn’t even on my radar, but when I became a Mom, it became one of the things I would truly look forward to every week, when I would bring my baby to story time.
Sure, we do the nightly bedtime stories at home, and I try to restrict their use of “modern technology,” and going to the public library is a fun option you might want to try! Plus, in Miami our library system offered free passes to several other public facilities like museums and the zoo – you could check them out just like a book, and save money!! Trips to the library with kids is an awesome opportunity to lay the foundation and start helping them to develop solid language skills through talking, singing and playing, as well as reading together.