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  • Programs for Kids

Early Literacy and School Readiness

    The library's Youth Services Department makes the development of early literacy skills and school readiness for children a top priority. Our early literacy programs are based on the “Every Child Ready to Read” principles developed by American Library Services for Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. This initiative encourages caregivers to use five basic practices with children: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing together. At the library, we use the BOUNCE label to help identify books and other materials in the library's collection that help build literacy using these five activities.

    Bounce labels look like this


    Focusing on key early literacy practices, our library storytimes combine stories, fingerplays, action rhymes, music, and interactivity.

    Learn more about library storytimes and see the schedule here.



    Can't make it to storytime at the library? Create your own themed storytime at home. Watch a story video, read books (many are available digitally through Libby or Hoopla Digital), sing songs, and do an activity or two. Click to see our available Storytime@Home themes. 

    YouTube Stories, Songs, Rhymes, and More

    Our Youth Services staff have created lots of quick, fun videos perfect for young kids. Check out our playlists here.

    Programs for ages 0 to 5

    Exploration Lab

    The Exploration Lab room at the Main Library is designed for children ages 7 and older, but children ages 3–6 are invited to choose an Exploration Jr. kit to check out during Lab hours to enjoy with an adult (aged 16+) in the Kids Area outside of the Lab. These kits contain engaging learning materials that encourage early literacy and STEAM fun. You may check out one kit per adult, with a library card or driver’s license. Please use Exploration Jr. kits within the Kids Area only.

    Exploration Kit Jr.

    Exploration Lab School Year Hours (August–May)

    Mon–Thu 2pm–7pm

    Fri 2pm–5pm

    Sat 9am–1pm

    During Fall Break and Spring Break, the Exploration Lab is open Mon-Thurs 12–7pm, Fri 12–5pm, and Sat 9am–1pm.

    The Lab is closed from August 1–12 as we prepare for the beginning of the school year.

    Exploration Lab Summer Hours (June–July)

    Mon–Thu 10am–6pm

    Fri & Sat 9am–1pm

    During large-scale library events, the Exploration Lab may not be open. To confirm Lab hours before visiting, give us a call at 317.814.3992.

    1000 Books Before Kindergarten

    Read books together and earn prizes along the way.

    Countdown to Kindergarten

    A calendar of fun activities for the year leading up to kindergarten.


    Take a walk and read a book in these special outdoor installations.


    Our books, audiovisual items, kits, and games enable children of all ages and their caregivers to enjoy the world of reading together. Here is a sample of the collections we provide to help with early literacy.

    Board Books
    Often a baby's first introduction to books and literacy, board books have sturdy covers and pages, bright pictures, and few words.

    JE Picture Books
    Picture books contain lots of illustrations that work together with text to tell stories. Since picture books can be designed for different audiences, look for our BOUNCE stickers on the spines of many of those meant for the youngest ages.

    J Nonfiction
    This collection contains informational books geared toward kids of all ages, so look for the BOUNCE labels on early literacy titles.

    R Beginning Readers
    Designed for children who are learning to read, our beginning reader books are color-coded by reading level.

    Grab and Go Bags
    Each bag includes five picture books (four fiction and one nonfiction) on a specific topic, like trucks, butterflies, friends, superheroes, sports, and more.

    Board Games & Adventure Kits
    Hands-on activities for families to check out and enjoy at home.

    These are fiction picture books with audio narration through either an attached rechargeable preloaded player or a CD. Additional titles can be found interfiled with nonfiction, biography, and beginning readers.

    For more readalong fun, ask us how to access read-along ebooks in our Hoopla and Libby digital collections.

    Kids collection

    Beyond Board Books: Best First Picture Books

    Phonics, Sight Words, Decodables, and More Lists for Early Readers

    Beginning Reader Leveled Dots

    More Recommended Titles







    Sign up for our monthly Library News for Kids & Families emails to learn about upcoming events and library services.