“Libraries allow children to ask questions about the world and find the answers. And the wonderful thing is that once a child learns to use the library, the doors to learning are always open.” Laura Bush
As a parent with young children, reading to them is a crucial job. While reading at home is extremely comforting, one cannot stay inside our house forever. What began as a love of books and reading to my girls has turned into an experience unlike any other. This is my fourth post in the Loving the Library series. In each post, I will cover five libraries and share what makes them outstanding. You can find other libraries we’ve explored here, here, and here.
Norman has not just one, not two, but three 24-hour library locations! I don’t know about you, but I would have loved the opportunity to pick up a book when I was driving around at odd hours with my new babies. Each library can be stocked with up to 400 DVDs, books, audiobooks, and other media. These select libraries can be used to pick up your items placed on hold, check out items in the window, or return items anytime. I love parking my car right next to the automated vending library, scan my library card, receive my books, pay a fine with a credit card (if needed, which is often since I check out around 40 books at a time), and be on my way without having to get my kids out of the car. One location is housed right outside of the Norman West library. Another location is stationed next to Irving Middle School and the Irving Recreational Center. The third location is installed outside Norman East library.
Norman East is the newest libraries in Norman. It features an awe-inspiring floor to ceiling windows and just begs you to sit and read next to the sunlight. The astonishing Jennifer Voss leads a music program each month where kids get to move, dance, and sing. My Gymboree kids attend this event each time it is offered at Norman West and always leave laughing and energized. Our first visit to this library was during the Christmas season and my girls made crafts and drank hot chocolate while I enjoyed coffee and giggles. Have an older child? This library has many unique events offered each month for teens.
Family story-time meets each first, third, and fourth of the month on Thursday mornings. Family music time is offered the second Thursday morning of the month. School aged kids can discover STEAM skills through experiments, movement, art, and games every other Monday at 4:30. Teen activities such as meditation, art, and cooking are offered throughout the month. Teens can also join collaborative learning using critical thinking while exploring various technologies on the fourth Tuesday of the month. A knitting and crochet group for adults meets on Saturday mornings. Meditation meets twice monthly on Monday afternoons.
We’ve attended a Tai Chi event in the past at Warr Acres library but are looking forward to trying it out again. Madi was too little to appreciate it and Ali wasn’t walking steadily yet. Now that they’re older and take martial arts, I can see similarities between Madi’s forms and Tai Chi. I also took my family to spend time at this library while I visited a butterfly class. I learned about how important butterflies are to keeping our environment healthy. I even won a Bee Balm seedling to help bring butterflies to our family garden!
Don’t forget to bring your painting clothes when Young Artist Series meets on Monday afternoons for elementary aged students. Mother Goose on the Loose, a play-based early-literacy program that uses rhymes, songs, puppets, and instruments to nurture self-confidences, speech development, and motor coordination, flocks together each first and third Thursday and one Saturday a month. Not ready to leave the library yet? Stay for story-time and crafts following Mother Goose on the Loose. Minecraft Club for 3rd graders and up meet every first Thursday of the month. Does your 1st– 5th grader need some extra help reading? They can sign up for a 30 minute slot on Tuesday evenings to read with a teen or adult volunteer.
Visiting a library to learn about holidays from around the world is a family favorite of ours. One stunning trip to Midwest City library was when we attended a Diwali festival. We took turns creating rangoli (patterns) using colored sand and painted clay lamps. Exposing children to other cultures and traditions increases their perspective of the world, as well as your own! Midwest City library also has something else unfamiliar that you can expose your children (and maybe even you)- a public use typewriter.
Monday and Wednesday mornings are packed with story-time, playtime, and other child development activities. Is your teen free on Thursday afternoons? They can enjoy escape rooms, fan clubs, STEAM activities, as well as book clubs. Need some “me time”? Yoga meets Wednesday evenings at 7.
Some of my favorite library memories have come from dropping in on the Friday activities at the Newcastle Library. Ali has always been on the young end of attending children but has always been welcomed just as enthusiastically as the older kids. My girls have made art in the style of Rene Magritte, cooked noodle dishes from around the world, and built structures made of food and used shake tables to test out the stability of their structure to simulate an earthquake. The children’s librarian, Anne, is very patient and is exceptionally knowledgeable. Every time we attend an event, I am amazed at the diversity of topics Anne teaches.
Pre K story-time is followed by baby story-time on Wednesday mornings. Newcastle Public Schools do not meet on Fridays, but this library has your child covered for learning and fun! Elementary students will learn about STEM, create artwork in famous artist’s styles, and have a thrilling time while cooking. Teens have the opportunity to join book and writing clubs that meet monthly. Do your Thursdays need movement? Tai Chi gathers together in the morning while resistance band training meets in the afternoon.