Celebrating early readers: Thousands of books and counting

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten graduation certificates

It’s been one year since we launched our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and our early readers are off to a fabulous start. The library’s long-term reading program is designed to prepare babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to arrive ready to learn come kindergarten. So far, 36 families have achieved the goal of reading 1,000 books together … Read more

New sensory garden at Maze Branch brings fall fun for kids with special needs

Sensory Garden Launch

October is National Disability Awareness Month. All month, families and kids with special needs can find fun at the library, with programs featuring stories, songs, and movement, plus tools and supports to help all children be successful. The fun includes yoga, spooky stories, and exploration of our just-launched sensory garden at Maze Branch. Accessible and … Read more

9 ways to encourage spontaneous, meaningful language

Encouraging spontaneous, meaningful language

This spring, parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 5 participated in a special workshop at the library, learning how to enrich their children’s lives with language and play. Pediatric speech-language pathologist Clare Kilbride from Kids Unlimited Therapy Services in Oak Park joined us to discuss communication milestones, red flags for communication, and … Read more

Raising kids? Top 5 reasons you need your library

Kids at 2018 Code Fest

Know someone without a card? September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Help us spread the word about all the great things libraries have to offer! Learn more about getting and using your card » #1: You get to say yes more No late fines and automatic renewals? Go ahead, get all the books, music, and movies … Read more

Tools for talking about race with kids

Book Covers: Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel, So You Want To Talk About Race By Ijeoma Oluo, Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children by Jennifer Harvey, Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, Up! How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes, Skin Again by Bell Hooks, We Came to America by Faith Ringgold

Last year, the founder of local Facebook group Raising Race Conscious Kids in and around Oak Park reached out to us. Although she had been raised to be “color-blind,” Andrea Kovach wrote, she is raising her 3- and 6-year-olds differently because “research has shown that instead of dismantling structural racism, that way of parenting just … Read more

How we support kids of all abilities

Scanner pen

“One way we welcome all families into the library is providing supports for kids with disabilities,” said Early Literacy Librarian Shelley Harris. Pens that scan and read text aloud With one of the scanner pens available for checkout (pictured above), you can scan text in a book and hear the words read aloud. You also … Read more

Pride in being yourself

Ask Me About My Pronouns

Earlier this year, Library Assistant Hal Patnott (pictured above) saw an opportunity to spark conversations about gender identity with families in the Main Library Children’s Services department. As a transgender man who’s often mislabeled as “she,” Patnott said, “it gets exhausting after a while.” So he put up a sign at the service desk: “Ask … Read more

Stories to reflect all families

Stories for all families

“When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read … they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.” —Rudine Sims Bishop, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” (1990) Bridging diversity gaps This spring, a new Children’s Services task force with diverse staff … Read more

Let’s grow early readers … in our parks!

Pop-Up Library storytime in Maple Park

The following letter to the editor, by staff from the Oak Park Public Library, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, New Moms, and the Park District of Oak Park, was published in the June 12 edition of the Wednesday Journal and has been lightly edited for our website. Although rewarding once you arrive, it’s not always easy to get to … Read more

Building reading into each day

1000 Books Jillian Zarlenga

This summer, families with young children who sign up for our summer reading program also have the opportunity to sign up for our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. It asks families to read—you guessed it—1,000 books together before their babies, toddlers, and preschoolers become kindergarteners. After finishing 1,000 books, each child gets to pick out a … Read more

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