This week’s book club takes us to the 53rd Street branch of the New York Public Library on 53rd Street between 5th and 6th avenues. The 53rd Street Library was revamped and re-opened just two years ago. It’s spacious, modern, and clean. Throw in a cocktail bar by the check-out desk and you would think you’re in a chic hotel downtown. During super hot days in the summer (and super cold days in the winter), we like to spend an hour or two there. The Children’s Room is well stocked with books and a variety of toys.
We started coming to this library when it just opened, and Curious G was a little shy of 1.5 years old. Immediately, we were in love with the amount of space provided by the Children’s Room. It is large enough for early walkers and crawlers to explore without interruption, and older kids can read on one of the many large red ottomans or at the kid sized tables. There is also a Lego table, a hand puppet theater, a toy fruit stand, a large magnetic board with letters and a reconfigurable magnetic tube system for balls. The check-out desk is always equipped with crayons, paper, and puzzles. There's also a little tank containing a pet hermit crab that Curious G likes to say hello to after checking out her books. A row of computers by the entrance is available to kids with library cards via their pin numbers. I have not gotten Curious G a card yet, out of sheer laziness, but when she gets one she will be able to play with learning programs on the computers.
We have attended a variety of different story times with different themes (baby story time, Mandarin language musical story time, sensory story time, and more). The librarians are all exceptionally kind and engaging. The story times are sometimes held in a separate room one level up, but they also take place in the back of the Children’s Room. Other events, including movies (which are screened in the bleacher seating area), arts and crafts, and many other events for all ages can be searched here.
Right outside of the Children’s Room, there is a teen and older children section with ample seating and tables, and a wall of computers. We have come with older kids, who were impressed with their selection of books and DVDs.
The elevators are large and can accommodate at least two strollers at a time, in addition to a few bodies. The stroller parking on the children’s level but can fill up quickly on certain days (in the wintertime, Friday is a very popular day, as well as whenever there is a story time). The toddler traffic usually lightens up by noon when everyone heads home or to the bleacher area to eat lunch. Visitors are always allowed to eat in the bleacher section, and Curious G and I have had our lunch there before, while watching Harry Potter and some other kid-friendly movies (although Harry Potter is probably not the most toddler friendly movie, but c’est la vie). As with every NYPL branch, free wifi is available to all visitors.
Curious G has certain go-to library books in addition to the new ones that she usually discovers on our visits. "A Trip to The Bottom of the World with Mouse" by Frank Viva and "Found" by Selina Yoon are two of her go-tos.
"A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse" follows a mouse who journeys on a ship with a boy and asks repetitive questions much like a child would on a long car trip. It is silly and wry with a touch of retro via its graphic illustrations that make it enjoyable to read over and over. Frank Viva also wrote "Outstanding in the Rain", which is one of Curious G's favorite books that she has enjoyed since she was just a few months old.
"Found" is a sweet book about the joy of sharing and caring. Salina Yoon's books are very heartfelt, and Curious G fell in love with "Penguin and Pinecone"the first time she read it at the 53rd Street library. We have since acquired several of Yoon's Penguin books for our home library. They are among our favorites.