Kids, families enjoy reading in Wichita libraries


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Wichita Advanced Library

Wichita Advanced Library

Wichita Eagle

Talk about it. Singing. Read. Write. Game.

These five endless creative activities are the foundation on which public libraries help children prepare to read.

Since 1896, public libraries have offered times of stories that capture children’s imagination and require resilience for a lifetime reader. And over the centuries, libraries have been a strong partner for new parents to begin their journey to support future readers.

I have had the privilege of working in public libraries for 28 years and I express my dream to the world every day that more children than ever can visit the library. This desire was undoubtedly influenced by my first job as an employee of the Emporia Public Library – the removal of the same illustrated books that my mother brought me up as a preschooler.

When I became a parent, I added to this daily desire that caregivers – every adult who actively contributes to child support regardless of their relationship with the child – feel a network of safety and support and care from the library staff no matter what. if this is the first or 500th visit to the library.

At the Wichita Public Library, we prioritize children’s early experiences with words and reading and the relationships we build with families. We understand that not all caregivers trust the students themselves, and our support also applies to their needs.

We celebrate and encourage everyone to spend even 15 minutes a month to visit the library, a unique community experience that creates waves of learning and joy.

When we combine early learning programs with play, an even more powerful catalyst for children’s learning emerges.

While playing, children learn about their world, they learn the skills needed for critical thinking, they discover solutions to problems, and they gain self-confidence.

Play is so important for a child’s development that it is recognized by the United Nations as the right of every child.

A key concept in the design of the Advanced Placement Library is where members of the community try to visit and create their communities within the library.

In the coming years, the four branch library spaces will be renovated or expanded to include new early learning activities and family spaces to create unique and free spaces for families.

Library collections continue to diversify with Wonderbooks, Early Literacy and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) To Go Kits.

We have an exciting summer reading program designed for teens that offers a variety of free programs and activities.

Our 1,000-book pre-kindergarten program covers more than 6,000 people, with 781 young readers achieving this amazing achievement!

Libraries are housed in a wider system of institutions with the Wichita Literacy Coalition, which makes community partnerships important to demonstrate your library’s leadership in lifelong learning.

We are also investing in new ways to get children out of our premises. This summer, the Library will install the first Wichita Permanent Story in Evergreen Park to promote health and literacy in one of Wichita’s strongest communities.

We invite you to take a walk and enjoy a bilingual illustrated book Dreamers by Yui Morales, then visit regularly as the story changes throughout the year.

Family activities have a systemic impact on our society. And your Wichita Public Library is working hard to strengthen families.

Learn more about how you can help improve library services for young people and families at

Jamie Protro is the director of the Wichita Public Library System. This is the second in a series of columns about the contribution of strong libraries to our communities.

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