Tun the winter blues into fun adventures with just a visit to your local Chicago Public Library branch.
Indoor playground and school all in one
Daniella and her young family moved to Chicago just in time for their first winter storm. “We come from Malta, where winters are mild. When we moved to Chicago last November, we were shocked.” After a week of being cooped up at home, Matteo, 22 months, was itching to go out. Looking for recommendations, Daniella asked her new neighbors. They all said the same thing, “Go to the Library!”
“Matteo fell in love with the Library instantly. The moment I put him down, he started running around and exploring,” Daniella shares as she follows the almost-two-year-old to Obie’s Truck, a makeshift food truck where kids pretend to both drive, cook, and eat! “There are so many toys and activities that can keep children busy all day long,” the mother of one shares.
In stark contrast to the gloomy weather outside, Chicago Public Library’s 40 Early Learning Centers are warm and inviting. Vibrant hues of green, red, and yellow blocks are scattered on the floor. Toddlers crawl from one end to the other. Young children are getting as many books and toys they can carry in their hands. A group of three-year-olds play together, dressed as firemen.
“It’s like an indoor playground,” Daniella observes. “But it’s so much more,” she continues.
At Chicago Public Library’s Early Learning Centers, playing is learning, and learning is playing. Alongside kids sharing trucks, pots, and pans are parents reading with their little ones. At exactly 9:45, small groups enter the storytime room for 20 minutes of singing, dancing, playing, reading, and talking. In the middle of the space, a father is teaching a little boy how to check out a book.
“Matteo learned numbers here,” Daniella smiles and then points to the gigantic ruler mounted on the wall. “Every time we visit the Library, he would run to the ruler. At first, he just traced the numbers with his fingers. Then we started reciting the numbers. Now, he can do it on his own!” Daniella beams proudly.
CPL as the Ultimate Resource for Winter
“The Library is Eli’s favorite place to go to during winters. It’s mine too.” – Yanina
Aside from the reprieve from the cold and boredom, Yanina enjoys the Library because she learns just as much as Elias. “The librarians and staff are incredibly helpful. They give me book recommendations for Elias. Teacher Annie talks to us after our Terrific Twos and Threes storytime to give tips so the children can learn at home. She also just checks up on how every child is doing. It’s sweet how she cares,” Yanina explains fondly.
And the resources the Library offers extend beyond the branches. “Last year, I discovered the Kids Museum Passport, and it has changed our winters completely. Thanks to this amazing initiative, Elias and I visited the Adler Planetarium, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Children’s Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium — for free!” Yanina shares.
“From a dull and sedentary winter of watching cartoons on TV, our winters now have become city adventures.”
But perhaps the most significant resource the Library has to offer is the community it fosters among parents, grandparents, and caregivers. “It’s so heartwarming just to speak with other parents from all over the city. We exchange tips from daycare options to the best early learning apps. We also share parenting challenges. It has become a support group of sorts,” Yanina explains. Just like their kids, parents and caregivers have formed a friendship — one that extends beyond the stacks.
Winter can be long and dreary. But it doesn’t have to be boring. At Chicago Public Library’s Early Learning Centers, winter can be heartening, productive, even magical for children and parents alike. Click here to learn more about the Library’s winter activities.
CPL’s Early Learning Centers encourage children to follow their curiosity and empower parents to be their children’s first and best teacher through customized guidance, book recommendations, and fun programs that nurture young learners’ brain development and pre-literacy skills. This program is made possible by The Barker Welfare Foundation, The Brinson Foundation, Wells Fargo, The Peninsula Chicago Hotel, and generous donors to the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
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