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I always forget how hot the North Texas summers are, which is why I always tend to think the current summer is hotter than the previous. Surely I’m not alone in this. These hot, hot summer days get me thinking about what to do to get my daughter and I out of the house, but stay within arms reach of air conditioning. One underutilized resource in our city is the Dallas Public Library (DPL). I knew there had to be tons of events and resources available through all of the local branches, but I guess I’ve just never taken the time to research all there is to do through our library system.
Well, good news for you- I’ve done a lot of research for you! I’m going to guide you to and through some of the coolest features the DPL has to offer. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised and I think you will be too.
This summer is a great time to go to the Central library downtown and here’s why: the wonderful people at this branch have created a kid-friendly self-guided tour. It is laid out floor by floor (there are 8 floors- so think about the good nap your child will take afterwards!) and it reads sort of like a scavenger hunt. It looks fun and is a great way to get acquainted with the library! You could even print off a coloring page of Central Library to accompany your trip (for more coloring pages see the homepage of the ‘Kids’ link.)
I knew the DPL would have tons of events, and with 28 different locations, I assumed sorting all of these events out would be overwhelming. However, after I found the calendar (see Kids> Events> AllI Children’s Events) I was so surprised to see that I could click on a calendar that just focused on events for children!
This is a daily calendar with usually at least 5 events a day. Scroll over an event and, voila, you have the description, location, time, and targeted age range! This is a great tool for those spur-of-the-moment decisions to get out and do something. Plus, I discovered some really great events like family matinees, reading to dogs, story art and a fire engine appearance!
Mayor’s Summer Reading Program
Surely by now we all know the importance of exposing our kids to books. We also know that we can never start reading to them too young. But sometimes through the hustle and bustle of our busy days, reading time can fall to the wayside. Well here is some incentive- for you and your kid- the Mayor’s Summer Reading Program. If you have a child, sign them up for this program. Any age child can sign up, whether they can read or just listen! You do have to register though , but once you do that, your child can receive a weekly prize for completing the time requirement for their age. The prizes, including lots of coupons and discounts, are great motivators for kids and a great payoff for parents.
Another really cool highlight of this program is that Clarice Tinsley, one of the anchors from FOX 4, will be doing 6 different storytimes for kids at 6 different branches this summer. How fun for your child to hear her read a book and then go home and see her on the news! There are lots of teachable moments in this experience.
I bet you’ve been shopping at Northpark but did you know about the Dallas Public Library branch located on the lower level that is just for kids? It sits behind Forever 21 and is next to La Duni. Bookmarks is a fantastic resource that I have taken advantage of, even in my short time of being a mom. I attended a Baby Bounce class here and really loved it. I even met a new friend there! The best way to utilize this branch is by finding the class schedule online or on the master children’s calendar I mentioned earlier. So be sure to check it out if you are going to the mall.
The DPL website is full of online resources, you just have to find them. I had the best luck clicking on the “Kids” tab at the top right and perusing the information there. There are numerous activities and resources here such as online activities, coloring pages, homework help and a list of great books. However, a couple of the resources are worth pointing out in detail.
One of them is their list of Cool Sites. This is a list of fun, educational and clean sites for your child to explore such as American Girl, Funbrain, Highlights and Seussville. If your kids are old enough to use the computer or even if you want to introduce your toddler to the computer, this is a great tool for you. It could allow you to get a few loads of laundry done while your child is having fun on a website that will keep them safely entertained and interested.
The other source that I found to be fun and perfectly suited to keep up your children’s reading interest throughout the summer is BookFlix. This is best found by clicking on Database > Kids > BookFlix. Now for this one, you will need to be logged in using your DPL card number so take the time to do that; it’s worth it. BookFlix basically lets you choose a book to be read aloud online and pairs it with a non-fiction book. For example, I chose Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type. It was slightly animated and was read aloud. Then it was followed by a non-fiction book called Let’s Visit a Dairy Farm. There are related activities and a “Meet the Author” page that go along with this too. Being a former teacher, this wonderful resource for kids and parents really caught my eye. Whether they watch and read the books independently or with you by their side, it’s bound to get them excited! Take advantage!
Casey Gilliam is a Co-Founder of Dallas Moms Blog, a blog geared towards connecting local moms to each other and to this great city. She loves her baby girl and her husband of almost 8 years. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org