Lots to love about the Chicago Public Library

Bucktown-Wicker Park Branch Library [320x200].jpg

The Bucktown-Wicker Park Library. Photo used via Creative Commons license.

The Chicago Public Library is a great resource for families. You probably already know that, right? But I am not just talking about checking out books for the kids. Did you know that you can check out fishing poles from some branches and meet famous authors face to face? Yep, it true. This place has a lot more to offer than books. Check out some of these cool programs.

Summer Reading Program. If you haven't already done so, get your kid signed up for the Summer Reading Program. This year's program is called "Land of Lincoln Readers" and focuses on the history of Illinois and life of Abraham Lincoln. The program is open to kids ages three through fourteen. Kids who enroll and read the required number of books will get a t-shirt at the end of the summer.

Kraft Great Kid's Museum Passes.
This program provides free passes to all of your favorite local museums and attractions -- everything from the Brookfield Zoo to the Museum of Contemporary Art. At the Bucktown-Wicker Park branch, I know that the competition for these passes is fierce. Check out some of the less crowded branches to increase your chances of finding the one you want. 

Nature Collections. This is a program that I bet you haven't heard about. You can check out bags of books, videos, pamphlets, and materials around a certain topic (like peregrine falcons). The goal of the program is to provide kids with real-life connections to the natural world. Similarly, you can also check out fishing poles from nine different branches (how cool is that?).

Free Story Times. If you are looking for free activities for your toddler or preschooler, take advantage of the free story times at many branches. Again, at the Bucktown-Wicker Park branch, there is a rush to get a spot in these classes. I have been to lots and lots of great story times. At our local library, each session features several books and songs around a topic (like food or baseball) and then kids get to make a craft to take home.

Kid's Movies. This is a great place to pick up flicks for the kids -- and save on rental fees!

Children's Books on Tape. Pick up a good read for your next road trip and avoid fights over which radio station to listen to! I like to choose a classic children's story that all members of the family can enjoy.

My biggest library tip is to use the "place a hold on materials" feature on the website. Rather than wander around the library searching high and low for a material that may or may not be there, request it online first. You will be notified by email when the item has arrived at your local branch and you can quickly stop in to retrieve it from the main desk. This easy process saves so much time and hassel.

Oh, and the library has lots to offer moms and dads too. Check out the Adult Summer Reading Program if you are looking for some good beach reads.

Which library programs does your family love?

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