I don't know about you guys, but I loved my local library when I was a kid. But with all the distractions of mobile devices, games, and more, many kids never even visit the library and when they do, they find it to be boring. That's why some libraries have really made an effort to encourage kids not only to keep reading but also to see just how much fun can be had at the library. Here are a few branches that go above and beyond when it comes to keeping kids entertained.
1. Brentwood Library
Perhaps one of the most visually impressive children's museums in America, the Brentwood Library's children's area features a charming entrance adorned in oversized books and a massive storybook tree. An animatronic owl greets visitors when it is triggered by a motion sensor. Inside the kid's section, the walls are covered in paintings of fairytale forests and between the rows of books are charming artificial trees.
The second Friday of each month means LEGO Mania time and summer reading programs feature musicians, puppets, magicians, live animals and more. During the school year, they have an after-school program that includes snacks, crafts, games and books.
Image Via CajunKev [Flickr]
2. Laramie County Library
Seeing pre-teen zombies roaming around the library after dark is no big deal at the Laramie County Library, where there are lots of tween activities including an after-hours program that hosts a yearly Zombie Prom.
The library is so popular with the young set that over 3,500 children visit each week and the entire second floor is dedicated to kiddos. The children's space features an oversized chess board, board games, computer stations, story areas and a kid's-size bookmobile to distribute imaginary books. Librarians say parents have a hard time getting children to leave.
Part of the reason the library is so popular with kids is that they can actually volunteer there as long as they are 12 and older. The library even offers a Teen Advisory Board to help decide on what programs would be the most popular with their peers.
Image Via Preston Stafford [Flickr]
3. ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center
A combination effort between the Children's Theatre of Charlotte and Charlotte Mecklengburg Library, ImaginOn offers 102,000 square feet of entertainment and library space for youngsters. The center offers two theater spaces, one that seats 570 and one with occupancy for 250 viewers. Aside from theater performances oriented towards children, ImaginOn's theaters are also used for theater classes and camps oriented for groups of toddlers all the way through teens, as well as puppetry acts and story time sessions.
Upon entering ImaginOn, children first encounter the StoryLab area, an interactive exhibit space designed to get kids interested in literature. Once they get to the actual library section, kids from birth to fifth grade can find books, DVDs, CDs and children's software oriented to their specific age group. The second floor is reserved specifically for tweens and teens and even offers them the chance to use the library's film and recording studio.
Image Via Mark Larson [Flickr]
4. Public Library of Cincinnati
The library's Children's Learning Center encourages children to read in a number of fun and unique ways. They have programs for children to read to dogs, let books be taken outside for outdoor reading, teach art classes, present theater programs and have a children's book club that allows kids to collect rewards for reading. The library itself has a beautiful saltwater aquarium, tons of computer learning stations equipped with educational software and a 9,200 square-foot children's garden.
They even offer teen programs that include after-hours activity nights, gaming tournaments and homework help for those who need it.
In any given year, the library offers over 1,000 kid's programs that are attended by over 26,000 children and teens.
Image Via Jean-Francois Schmitz [Flickr]
5. Vancouver Community Library
Drawing in an about 12,000 visitors in just one week, the $35 million Vancouver Community Library seems to be popular with everyone in town -especially children, who have free-reign of the entire 12,000 square-foot second story. The flooring of the children's area features bright colored lights throughout the space. For kids under 5, the Early Learning Center is a fantastic playground that encourages exploring and learning. For those who are a little older, the kid's area offers a space fitted with comfy seating, LEGO building areas and game-play tables. They even offer their own Minecraft server. For teens, programs include job seeking courses, trivia nights, teen writing contests and a hangout space that includes video games and more.
Image Via Jenny Cestnik [Flickr]
6. Silver Lake Public Library
This small Los Angeles suburban library is incredibly popular among local residents. Toddlers can enjoy a toys, stuffed animals and games, while older kids get a kick out of making their own books that can actually be stamped with a barcode and added to the library's circulation. As if that wasn't enough, the library even hosts a weekly pajama party storybook reading and prizes for children who do book reviews.
Image Via Silverlake Library [Facebook]
7. Cerritos Millennium Library
Los Angeles County parents are lucky in that they have access to two uniquely fantastic libraries for children. While the small Silver Lake Public Library is notable for its programs, the Cerritos Millennium Library has an incredible space for children to learn. Calling itself the world's first "Experience Library," the Cerritos Library has a number of themed spaces each featuring artwork and architecture intended to inspire and intrigue visiting patrons. In the children's library area, this means a delightful entryway featuring giant books that leads to a space adorned with a 15,000 gallon saltwater aquarium, a playhouse shaped like a lighthouse, a model space shuttle, a T-Rex skeleton replica named Stan, a small theater and an arts and crafts room. It's no wonder Los Angeles Magazine, L.A. Parent Magazine and Reader's Digest have all named the location the Best Public Library. Los Angeles Magazine also named the library the Best Library for Children.
Image Via Musgo Dumio_Momio [Flickr]
8. Birmingham Public Library
(Image credit: Flickr user Birmingham Public Library)
The library's Youth Department features rows of colorful books, plants hanging from the ceiling and stuffed animals ready for plenty of cuddling. But they don't stop with a great looking children's section. The library also offers great programs to capture the attention of youngsters, even those far too young to speak -let alone read. Their summer reading program has even paired up with NFL player Jerricho Cothery and includes a teen tailgate party and a football clinic. Other offerings for teens include a teen slam poetry contest and a Halloween ball. During Valentine's season, the Youth Department partners with the local Children's Hospital to create and distribute around 2,000 Valentine's Day cards for children in the hospital.
Do any of you know of a children's library that should be added here? Or do you maybe have some memories of a special librarian who helped you love the library as a youngster? Share your thoughts in the comments.