Best libraries for kids in NYC
Not only is this library one of the city’s most beautiful, it’s also Manhattan’s first LEED-certified branch. Nearly every architectural feature is made from some type of recyclable material. Like the rest of the branch, the spacious children’s room is both ultramodern yet classic and comfortable: Its elegant orange-red chairs and round tables, plus a storytime rug and orange bean bags, give the room a casual vibe. Our favorite element, however, is the sloping, padded reading nook under the glass-enclosed stone staircase that invites kids to ditch the notion that reading must be done in an upright position.
Queens Library's Children's Library Discovery Center encourages curious kids to learn about all kinds of things, including bugs, magnets, puzzles, perception and, of course, books! Tykes can tinker with hands-on activities, and parents will love that the venue also offers two databases that help children with literacy.
Housed in a striking 1941 Art Deco building designed to look like an open book, the library is Brooklyn's largest and hosts roughly 1 million visitors each year. The venue overlooks Grand Army Plaza and provides WiFi, landscaped gardens and an outdoor performance space that hosts live concerts. Among the library's strongest suits is its first-floor Youth Wing, with designated spaces for toddlers, grade-schoolers, tweens and teens to read, work on homework and use game-equipped computers. The S. Stevan Dweck Center for Contemporary Culture puts on more than 100 events per month, many of which are aimed squarely at kids.
The extensive Brooklyn Public Library system loves serving its young visitors, which is especially clear thanks to its youth programs and facilities that serve as designated spaces for kids to read, study and game. Kiddos will get a kick out of the ampitheater and Imagination Playground foam blocks.
Like many of its predecessors, this library is bathed in sunlight, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and feels so inviting. That's true for the technically below-ground children's room as well: A moatlike space carved around the building lets natural light in, and besides the requisite kid-size tables and chairs, the flooring is cushy and bean bags that can be set down at will are provided. An enclosed storytime/Wii room whose colors are redolent of a cabin in the woods, plus a common outdoor area that's stylishly landscaped with durable plants and rocks, ensure that this long-awaited Bronx dream was no lark.
Informally divided into fiction, nonfiction and picture-book sections, the space is like a big living room; the capacious carpeted spot on the western end is used for storytelling. Kids big and small also get a kick out of the Pooh room, wallpapered with renderings of the Hundred Acre Wood. Inside, you'll find a glass case containing Christopher Robin Milne's vintage stuffed animals, the inspiration behind his dad's Winnie the Pooh books. The library has a good selection of those, too! Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Ave at 42nd St, ground floor, room 84 (212-621-0208, nypl.org).