Free Youth & Family Programs
Summer Reading Challenge
Our free summer reading challenge each year features a chance to earn prizes by tracking reading and doing activities, using our online reading challenge Beanstack app or readers can choose an offline paper challenge. Kids can earn prizes like passes to the aquatic center, Zoo and Iowa Cubs tickets, “bedtime buddies”/stuffies, and free prize books. They can also earn ticket for grand prizes—with winners notified at the end of the challenge in August. There are also special activities planned in June and July for a variety of age groups, including storytime and special events, which may include music, arts, entertainment, STEM activities, educational programs with animals, hands-on experiences, and more.
Storytime Session – for preschoolers & their parents/caregivers
Storytime is mostly held year round, with the exception of the months of May and August (and a week or two around the winter holidays). Storytime is held on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. and features songs, stories, and fingerplays on a theme. Children of all ages are welcome, with a caregiver. Daycare/preschools groups are asked to pre-register to bring groups of 8 or more children. Please feel free to talk with youth staff about your child’s readiness for storytime, and/or what to expect. Occasional weekend or evening storytimes are are offered, as well.
Small Talk Early LIteracy Class
Small Talk is an award-winning series of free Zoom classes for parents of babies ages birth to 30 months, in which you’ll learn simple strategies to talk, read, and, and sing more with your baby and help your baby’s brain grow. There are 5-8 families in each class session, which spans 10 weeks. Class sessions are offered in English, and in Spanish, in partnership with ISU Extension. Families earn a free book or learning toy for each week of class attendance. For more information, contact the youth desk at the library.
Offered at the library in the blue activity room (see Events calendar for schedule) and offers a chance for free, imaginative play with giant blocks, Legos, a kitchen set, dollhouse, and more, after storytime and at other scheduled times. Toys are geared toward 3-7 year olds who attend with a caregiver. Children younger than 3 may attend (with the caregiver being aware that all toys are not suitable for toddlers/babies). Groups (daycares, programs, etc.) may “book” a Play Day time (supervised by the organization’s staff) during certain times of the week (call 641-754-5738, ext. 3 to schedule.)
Offered at the library in the blue activity room (see Events calendar for schedule) or outside, Baby Parties are offered a couple times a year, giving babies and toddlers a chance to play with developmentally appropriate toys for the littlest ones, and for caregivers to meet others. Older siblings of babies and toddlers, who are able to safely play within an environment geared toward babies, are welcome. (This program is intended for families/public; groups or daycares wanting an opportunity for something similar can call the youth desk at 641-754-5738, ext. 3 to check for options.)
Occasional music programs for families with babies, toddlers & preschoolers where children can come to library in their pajamas and enjoy hands-on instrument and active music play.
Special events are planned for a variety of ages throughout the year. See the online calendar, or flyers in the library for special upcoming events. All library programs and activities are free. Musicians, hands-on activities, author visits, arts programs, gaming events, book discussions, and book character parties are a few examples of past special events.
Annual Special Events
Some programs occur each year at the library. These include Trick or Treat Storytime, where kids can wear costumes to storytime and parade around to receive treats. A model train display in the big meeting room (open to all ages) is often scheduled in December, with an accompanying train storytime. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros is celebrated in partnership with the spring StoryBook Walk with our downtown and celebrates all of our community’s children and the importance of reading in their lives with fun activities and a free book to keep for each child & chances to win grand prizes. The summer Healthy Family Fair, held in partnership with CAPS, is held on a Saturday morning in June and features a variety of organizations serving youth and families, with freebies, fun activities, vehicles to explore and more!
Note about GROUPS visiting the library
For the best experience for both groups and the general public, the library requires any non-related group of 8 or more to please schedule their visit by calling the library at 754-5738. This policy applies to both programmed visits (where library staff leads a tour or provides another program) as well as less formal visits (just bringing a group to use the library facilities or check out.)
“On Your Own” Anytime Fun
The library has a large variety of toys, games, puzzles, and special features for kids and families to have fun at the library. A lego table, train table, an Everbright Light Wall, touchscreen computers with educational games pre-installed, as well as coloring books, crayons, dominos, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, and Magna Tiles are just some of our offerings. Kids must be at least 8 years old to spend time at the library on their own. Kids 6 & 7 years old, who are able to follow library guidelines, may play in a youth area while their parent is elsewhere in the building. Children younger than 6 need to be immediately supervised (within an arm’s reach) by a responsible caregiver at all times while at the library. The youth area is reserved for youth and adults who are with youth; while anyone may check out items from the youth department collection, adults who are not accompanied by youth are asked to use seating areas outside of the youth area. Any organization or group planning to visit with more than 8 unrelated people who plan to be in public (non-meeting room) areas for any length of time are asked to call the youth desk at 641-754-5738, ext. 3 to schedule their visit.
On Demand Programs
On demand programming is open to any group, including classes, clubs (Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts), homeschoolers, etc. as the schedule of youth staff allows. On Demand Programs include everything from tours, storytimes, science programs, requested themed programs, “how to use the library,” to “book talks” on a special topic or age range, and more.
Outreach to Preschool Centers
Involves a youth staff person presenting a storytime program at the preschool, as schedules permit. Please call Joa at 754-5738, ext. 3 to discuss your program request and schedule a time.