Let’s grow early readers … in our parks!

The following letter to the editor, by staff from the Oak Park Public Library, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, New Moms, and the Park District of Oak Park, was published in the June 12 edition of the Wednesday Journal and has been lightly edited for our website.

Although rewarding once you arrive, it’s not always easy to get to the library with small children. You’re juggling car seats and strollers, bottles and snacks, nap times, and perhaps a meltdown or two. And if you’re a child-care provider caring for multiple babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, it can be even harder to overcome barriers in schedules, transportation, and geography.

That’s why, from June to September, we’re aiming to make it easier by bringing the library to you, in all corners and pockets of Oak Park. With the Oak Park Public Library Book Bike, we’ll visit a range of neighborhood parks two Tuesdays a month, weather permitting, to share story times, age-appropriate books, and lots of fun and camaraderie.

We know that the more books a child has read, the more words a child has heard, the better off they will be once they start kindergarten. So we’re excited to launch this new series, Pop-Up Library in the Parks, to help families and caregivers grow early readers by sharing pre-literacy skills in fun, age-appropriate ways.

The idea for this series, a partnership of the Oak Park Public Library, the Collaboration for Early Childhood, New Moms, and the Park District of Oak Park, stemmed from what we’ve been hearing: families with young children and home child-care providers often feel isolated and want opportunities to meet up with other community members and caregivers in a public space.

Based on feedback, to work around lunch and nap times, we’ve scheduled both 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. sessions in eight parks around the village. After a library-led story time, we hope attendees will socialize, plop down in the grass to enjoy books, and find resources and information, especially for caregivers of kids from birth to age 5.

We’ll also be signing up kids for the library’s summer reading program, making library cards for teachers and business owners right on the spot, and handing out Parks Passports, which encourage kids to stay active all summer and explore their local parks through fun, free, and accessible missions.

See you in the parks!

  • Euclid Square Park: June 19, 10-11 am
  • Rehm Park: July 3, 3:30-4:30 pm
  • Barrie Park: July 17, 10-11 am
  • Andersen Park: Aug. 7, 10-11 am
  • Field Park: Aug. 28, 3:30-4 pm
  • Mills Park: Sept. 11, 10-11 am
  • Fox Park: Sept. 18, 3:30-4:30 pm

Sarah Yale, Neighborhood Services Librarian, Oak Park Public Library
Jennifer Little, Collaboration for Early Childhood
Gail Shelton and Wendy Giardina, New Moms
Cate Readling, Park District of Oak Park