Help children learn while having fun

Children are more open to learning if they’re having fun and making their own discoveries. The modern library offers many free things for kids to do that will provide them with inspiration, excitement and knowledge.

Curiosity and discovery

“We don’t always know what’s on at our local library,” admits Rachel, a customer of Hemsworth library in Wakefield. “But that means my children make unexpected discoveries! Not long ago my eight year-old saw a knitting group, became interested, and asked if he could join in and learn how to knit.”

A member of library staff shows some young children a book. One of the children points at a page of the book.
Children of all ages can discover new things at the library

It’s important to encourage children’s natural curiosity in a space that is safe for them to explore. For Rachel and her family, that space is her local library. “I don’t think my son would have come to me and said ‘Mum, I want to learn how to knit!’ But seeing something new that interested him broadened his horizons that little bit further.”

“It’s so much easier for young kids to absorb information and experiences if they can touch and see things.”
RachelCustomer, Wakefield Libraries

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Sparks of inspiration

Hands-on experience is an important thing for developing minds. Helen Halliwell, Floor Manager at Halton Libraries, has worked for the library service for over 20 years. She sees first-hand how activities engage children and fuel their curiosity.

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The library is a place where children can enjoy lots of activities

“We ran some workshops with 3D pens, where the kids could make their own Christmas decorations - the parents loved playing with them too! We’ve helped them build planet mobiles, so they learn about the galaxy. We’ve done origami flowers, robot hands with pipe-cleaners and straws, skeleton hands for Science Week, fizzy pop volcanoes…”

Practical activities like these aren’t just great fun - they help youngsters find their own interests and develop their own capabilities.

With STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education increasingly a priority in schools, the library is a place where tomorrow’s scientists, inventors and engineers can uncover life-changing sparks of inspiration.

“If you leave the library with a smile on your face, we know we’ve done our job.”
Helen HalliwellFloor Manager, Halton Libraries

Building blocks of language

The library helps children learn new things as soon as you take them for their first visit. Most library services now offer rhymetimes or storytimes, where babies and toddlers can listen to and take part in songs and stories. It entertains little ones, but, more importantly, it gives them another way to learn the building blocks of language.

When she visits Hemsworth library in Wakefield with her children, Rachel likes how deliberate the choices of songs are. “At Rhymetime they’ll sing songs that include numbers,” she says, “so my little one is being introduced to counting at an early age.”

Halton Libraries do the same, as Helen Halliwell explains: “We’ll sing hello and goodbye songs, and we’ll also do songs about the time, or about the days of the week. Babies and toddlers love the music and the singing - and at that age they’re learning all the time.”

How to encourage discovery at the library

  1. Take part in group fun

    Exposing a youngster to the imaginations and creations of others is a great way to inspire discovery. Whether it’s crafting, building with blocks or colouring club, the library is a safe way to help children build their creative muscle and social skills for free.

  2. Vary the times you visit

    Libraries are hives of activity. As well as finding regular free activities to enjoy with the children, pay a visit at a different time to see what else you might find. Diane, a volunteer at Sandal library in Wakefield, had a shock when she arrived one day: “I walked in on a normal day only to find a bearded dragon in the library! It was part of a group from a zoo, I think - it was wonderful to see the children enraptured with these exotic creatures.”

  3. Let the kids choose

    “I like letting the kids decide what to explore,” says Rachel in Wakefield. As a safe, contained space the library is a rare indoor spot where children are encouraged to roam and find what interests them. And if they find a book they like they can take it home!

  4. Ask a member of staff

    Library staff and volunteers want you to get the most from your library. If you’re not sure what’s on, or what’s most suitable for your child, they’ll be happy to help. As Helen Halliwell in Halton puts it: “If you leave the library with a smile on your face, we know we’ve done our job!”