Kent District Library is a Treasure Trove of Resources for Parents

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You Can Rent a BICYCLE From the Library??

Check Out Their Early Literacy Page and Lit Bits Newsletter, Too

Books are portals into wondrous worlds and an early love for reading sets up a child for a lifetime of loving to learn. Kent District Library can play a unique role in helping children discover this love for reading from a young age, connecting parents with resources and providing more than just books and media, but also the resources to adeptly choose and enjoy them.


With 18 branch locations, an annual circulation of over 5 million items, and one of the country’s largest digital collections, Kent District Library (KDL) is among West Michigan’s best FREE resources for children of all ages.

Apart from an expansive collection of books and interactive story times, KDL also offers everything from bicycle rentals to video games, digital children’s books (click here and here) to online audio and downloadable movies.

KDL Bike Rentals Cruisers

KDL has a special heart for early literacy, helping the 0-5 age group learn and practice the essential skills for learning how to read, and love it. KDL provides a wealth of resources for learning to read.

Read on to find out how you can make the most of what KDL offers parents of little ones in Kent County. Whether you’re new to KDL or a seasoned regular at your local branch, you’ll be sure to discover something new!

RELATED: The GIGANTIC Grand Rapids Babies Guide

Ready to Read and Play at KDLville®

I remember visiting the East Grand Rapids KDL branch for the first time and being blown away by the variety and number of fun activities available in the children’s area. I later learned that these activities were a part of KDLville®, available not only at this particular branch, but at every KDL location.

KDL’s early literacy program is centered around their Ready to Read practices, which include Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing, and Playing. These five practices are incorporated into all their resources, including KDLville®, helping to streamline and organize the activities.

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As KDL youth librarian Sarah Fox explains, “If there’s a puzzle or magnets out, it will have a little sign that tells how it’s connected to one of the five practices…There are always intentional activities in our branches that kids can do, and parents can know that they’re getting their early literacy skills when they bring their kids in.”

My toddler had a blast exploring that day, discovering new stations around every corner, peeking into the large aquarium tank, and interacting with other children. The best part was, he was laying crucial foundations for literacy, and he didn’t even know it!

5 Ways to Be Inspired through KDL’s Early Literacy Page

KDL’s resources aren’t limited to just the library–their website features an expansive and carefully curated selection of activities and resources for early literacy.

Specifically dedicated to children ages 0-5, the Early Literacy Page was created and is maintained by KDL’s own youth librarians. Here you’ll find practical, creative resources for encouraging early literacy at home and on the go.

Here are five ways KDL’s Early Literacy Page can help inspire you and your child:

  1. Looking for some new indoor play/learning ideas? Browse through the many printable activities, craft ideas, and recipes on the Play Grow Read page for all those rainy and snowy days at home.
  2. Download and print the Early Literacy Calendar for a fun and simple literacy activity to do each day of 2017! All activities are color-coded by KDL’s Ready to Read
  3. Know what’s going on! The website provides links to current and upcoming events, such as the Early Childhood Essentials classes created especially for parents, and of course, story times at all branches.
  4. Interested in attending a story time, but not sure what to expect? You can preview a live story time by watching a video on the Early Literacy Page. These videos are also available in Spanish.babytime
  5. The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is a fun way to establish good reading habits with your little one–and get rewarded for it! If one thousand books sounds like a big number (which it is!), consider that if you read just 3 books a day for a year, that’s 1,095 books.

RELATED: Guide to West Michigan Schools: Public, Private, Charter and Religious

The Valuable Service of Book Recommendations

If you’re like me, a trip to the library’s children’s section can be both magical and a bit intimidating. Unless you come with a list of books already in hand, it can be a challenge to sift through the many shelves of books to find the ones that will speak to your child–especially if you’re trying to find books with a toddler or two in tow.

Public Library Boy Reading Books

That’s why one of the best resources KDL provides to parents of young children is their book recommendations. You can more efficiently navigate the vast and wonderful world of children’s books through the help of resources like the ones below.

  • Beanstack, a national program created by librarians, gives you book suggestions based on your child’s own interests. According to Ms. Fox, “For example, if you put in that your kid likes the Berenstain Bears, then [Beanstack] will help you find other books your kid would be interested in. It’s just a fun website that helps parents figure out what else their kids would like to read.”
  • You’ll find many great book recommendations by youth librarians on the KDL website, organized by the current season, by age, and by topics such as diversity.
  • Don’t forget, too, that the children’s librarians at all branches are always willing to help with suggestions in person!

Stay in the Know with the Early Lit Bits Newsletter

Once a month, KDL publishes an e-newsletter just for parents of children ages 0 to 5, delivered straight to your inbox. Informative, creative, and thoughtful, it provides book suggestions, corresponding activities, and news about current and upcoming events.

What I appreciate about this newsletter is that it’s a great way to do something new and valuable with your child, without being overwhelmed. For example, January’s newsletter included five activities, each with a corresponding book suggestion, as well as easy and fun ideas for crafts and active play. When you’re a busy parent running around with under-5’s, convenient, simple, and fun is definitely the way to go!

Do yourself and your child a favor, and sign up for the Early Lit Bits Newsletter here.

KDLville4 Kent District Library

KDL has dared to dream what the library can mean, and be, to families with young children. With many streamlined, easy-to-use resources, KDL helps make early literacy accessible to every child. Whether at your local KDL branch or from the comfort of your own home, parents can have the help they need to make literacy a priority during what can often be a hectic season of life.

Early literacy has been a big part of KDL for a long time,” says Ms. Fox. “And there’s only going to be more resources added as time goes on.”


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