There are an infinite number of ways to attract children to reading, and children’s rooms in our public libraries provide a veritable endless supply of displays, activities that involve recreational reading programs for specific age groups, special events, clubs, and a juvenile book collection that appeals to a wide variety of young peoples’ interests and reading levels.
For instance, Quince Orchard Library has a Discovery Room within its greater children’s area that preschoolers and their parents can reserve for one hour. It is filled with exciting educational toys, games and puzzles, even a playhouse, especially welcome for children and their frazzled mothers or fathers during inclement weather.
Another special attraction at Quince Orchard Library is their Penny Theater where volunteers present rod puppet plays based on well-known juvenile books. This art form became popular in Victorian England and has continued through the present day. These popular miniature theater productions attract mostly ages three through the primary grades. Flyers listing the schedule of monthly puppet shows, September through April, are available. Programs are free, but reservations are required for each child.
In addition to the above, Quince Orchard Library has a Children’s Book Club for grades 4 through 6, both a younger children’s poetry club and a teen poetry writing club, and a book club that meets the first Wednesday evening of each month at 7 p.m. Other special programs include a teen “Tune’n to Jazz” on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m, and “Read to a Dog” where school-age children read to certified therapy dogs to improve their reading skills.
Storytimes are the backbone of the library experience for an amazing age-span of children at most public libraries. Years ago when I was a fulltime librarian with Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL), a father asked me how old his child should be when his parents began reading to him. The library and I must have unknowingly concurred because Quince Orchard Library begins with a “Mother Goose Storytime” for infants and their parents at 10 a.m., followed by “Stay and Play” each Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. for children ages two to four.
Other Montgomery County Libraries have similar storytimes for as wide a range of ages as Quince Orchard, and each branch may have special attractions like a Discovery Room. The MCPL webpages offer detailed information about children’s programs at your local library.
Grandparents who are having an unexpected visit from grandchildren find the “bundles of picture books” handy to check out in a jiffy. And oh yes, you may return books checked out from one branch to any other branch or even any other public library in the entire state of Maryland.