(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)


The library will be an essential tool for kids as they get older, why not give them a chance to learn to love it at an early age? In addition to being a wellspring of learning and free information, the library can also offer kids a place to socialize and exchange ideas. The Chicago Public Library is diverse in locations, so there most likely is a branch near you that has programs you can utilize. Here are five examples of great library programs in Chicago.
Thomas Hughes Children’s Library At Harold Washington Library
400 S. State St.
Chicago, Ill. 60605
(312) 747-4200
www.chicagopubliclibrary.org

In addition to various story times offered by most Chicago Public Libraries, free workshops are taught throughout the week in the Maker Lab for older kids.  The Marker Lab houses everything from 3D printers, vinyl and laser cutters with various other machines and equipment. The Storybook Dollhouse contains over 70 clues which kids can follow to find the names of notable children’s stories, poems and nursery rhymes. The Thomas Hughes has tens of thousands of children’s books and kid-sized chairs and tables where the little ones can check them out.  There’s more fun for the older kids on the first floor where they can borrow laptops and play video games and enjoy the in-house production studio.

Sulzer Regional Library
4455 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
(312) 744-7616
www.chipublib.org

A good part of the first floor of the Sulzer Library in Lincoln Square is dedicated to children. The children’s section is stocked not only with books but with toys including Legos, blocks and puzzles, as well as over twenty kids’s computers! In addition to traditional story times suitable for varying age groups, the Sulzer offers after-school programs for older kids like the Not A Video Game Club, where kids can gather and play board games together, and the Maker Monday for teens where teenagers learn to make something new.

Humboldt Park Library
1605 N. Troy
Chicago, IL 60647
(312) 744-2244
www.chipublib.org

Humboldt Park had long awaited their own library, which they finally were granted in the summer of 2011. Of course, the library has story time and programs that encourage parents and kids to read together, but the biggest draw may be the library’s YOUmedia.  YOUmedia encourages middle school-aged children to come and learn and gain skills in science and technology as well as art, math and engineering. They can collaborate, learn new things and enjoy the program in addition to checking out books.

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Scottsdale Branch
4101 West 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60652
(312) 747-0193
www.chipublib.org

In addition to the normal story times offered by most Chicago Public Libraries, the Scottsdale Branch offers a series called Mother Goose on the Loose which runs for ten weeks and is geared toward babies and early toddlers. One caregiver per child is recommended, and all will enjoy nursery rhymes, songs and stories for the thirty-minute session. Tweens aren’t left out either and can come hang at the library on Tuesday evenings for Tween Game Room, where they can gather and play games or do crafts with others their age. The library provides games, but you can bring your own as well.

Budlong Woods Branch
5630 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626
(312) 742-9590
www.chipublib.org

The Budlong Woods Branch stands out not only because of its programs but because of it’s outdoor reading area, which is a treat in the warmer months! If kids need help with their homework, there is a certified teacher on staff at Budlong Woods certain days of the week to help with any homework questions they may have and help guide them toward success. The branch has computers for use and a good selection of picture books for younger kids. They also have event field trips to notable Chicago landmarks (guardians must accompany children).

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Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.