The 10 Coolest Libraries for Kids
May 30th, 2011 by Staff Writers
Instilling a love of reading at a young age can be an invaluable asset in the life of an individual, setting them up for greater success in school and perhaps their future careers. One of the best places to help hone a love of literature in kids is at the local library. Some libraries have gone above and beyond in helping children and teens to find reading a worthwhile and fun activity, building fantastical settings and offering a number of great programs. This list highlights just ten of these great children’s libraries, but there are many more out there, perhaps even in your own community! Remember, even if your library doesn’t offer all of these amenities, your kids will still love checking out books and engaging with reading programs.
- Seattle Public Library: Designed by award-winning architectural firm OMA, the Central Branch of the Seattle Library has been lauded around the world for its playful use of space. The Children’s library is no exception, with wide open spaces, rows upon rows of lights and bright colors help to make it a fun and inviting area within the larger library. Chairs and computer labs are designed for the smaller library patrons and shelves are kept low so all books are in reach of little hands. What makes the Seattle Library so great isn’t just the space, however, it’s the wide range of programs they offer. From game nights where young patrons can play Wii to homework help, the library aims to help enrich the lives of even the youngest among them. Additionally, the library offers an online collection of material so children can look at or listen to books while at home.
- Santa Maria Public Library: The Santa Maria Public Library offers many amenities for young readers, including a children’s theater, a homework center, study rooms, art exhibits and a large collection of books. What makes it so unique, however, is that the newly redesigned library space also features a full-size tree smack dab in the middle of the children’s library. Kids can pick out their favorite books while lounging underneath the boughs of this large, welcoming tree with twinkling lights and bugs. A huge mural on the wall also engages kids, asking them to find a number of hidden objects, and when they’re done with all that they can take in a puppet show before checking out their books and heading home.
- Costen’s Children’s Library: Children won’t want to leave this Princeton, NJ library once they get a peek at its indoor "bookscape." The space features an indoor garden complete with animal topiaries, furniture designed to look like flowers and bushes, a huge tree and a miniature house with a reading loft. Interactive features also make the library a fun place, with a storytelling radio that reads folklore and tall tales to kids. All of these features are interspersed with references to great works of literature, from graffiti on the tree to fake books lining the shelves. If the books kids check out don’t ignite their imaginations, the library space just might.
- The Trove at White Plains Public Library: In this great community library, kids will get to experience everything in a whole new way. A bookstore, children’s museum and library all rolled into one, children won’t want to leave when they settle into this space. What makes it so unique? There’s a tree-lined gallery where children can hang artwork, a large auditorium for performances and readings, and areas decorated to resemble castles and ships. The library is also loaded with tech, with numerous computers and flat screens for viewing all kinds of media.
- Almere Library: Located in the Netherlands, this library was designed to resemble a store, not follow the traditional molds. Books are arranged by theme, not the Dewey Decimal System, and visitors to the library could spend hours just wandering and browsing through the space. The children’s section is something special as well, with bright colors and playful spaces making it appeal to the younger patron. Colored stools fill one area of the floor and multi-colored light fixtures illuminate benches that wind between the shelves. Trees brought indoors and the brightness of the space help ensure that the modern architecture doesn’t make it seem cold, rendering it an interesting look into what could be the future of libraries around the world.
- The Children’s Library Lab at the Journey Museum: While this library does contain some books, it also takes a new approach to learning material with its discovery boxes. Each one contains reading material, pictures, objects and quizzes about a specific subject. Kids, teens and adults can check one out and spend the next half hour engrossed in a learning experience. When done, heading back to the library for more information is no problem – with over 200 books on hand ready for the browsing.
- Kathryn Siegel Welch Children’s Wing & Family Place: While books are, of course, the main attraction at the library, having a fun space to house them doesn’t hurt. That’s just what this children’s library has to offer, with playful wooden animals hung from the ceiling throughout. Desks shaped like trees, games added to the end of bookshelves and tables with fun prints also help make the space feel fun and unique. This library isn’t just meant to appeal to little ones through, as it is also home to a reading cafe featuring vending machines and a flat screen TV is perfect for teens or tweens.
- Lackawanna County Children’s Library: This library stands out because it’s not just a part of something larger. Instead, the children’s library is in a building (a historic church) all its own, leaving room to house tons of books and offering space for a wide range of activities. Here, children can access movies, CDs, and books that are all age appropriate, as well as getting homework help, making friends and participating in educational activities like a reading club or Socrates Cafe.
- Launa’s Little Library: This library doesn’t have the immense collections that some others on this list do, but what it lacks in comprehensiveness it more than makes up for in charm. This small library in Dallas was founded with a small collection of books and now takes up two stories of a small home. The library carries books for toddlers up to the sixth grade, as well as hosting programs aiming to foster a love of reading in young children. While the facilities are small, this local library is what reading is all about, helping kids learn the joys of reading early on.
- BiebBus Mobile Library: Libraries don’t have to be stationary, as this amazing Dutch example proves. Taking the idea of a bookmobile to the next level, the BiebBus library is housed inside a converted shipping container, which can be brought to schools that can’t afford a library on site. Besides carrying loads of books that kids can look through and several computer terminals, it also makes use of the space in a fun, innovative way that is sure to get children of any age (or adults) excited about reading. Transparent floors, portholes for peeping out and comfy chairs for kicking back make reading an adventure in itself.