Hopefully that title wasn’t lost on you, and you found yourself singing along!
I love to read, and enjoying books together is one of my favorite things to do with my kids. In fact, a visit to the Langhorne Library was one of our first outings just the 3 of us when Charlotte was a few months old. And a tribute to all the ways you could still enjoy your local library despite so many things being different this year was my first real blog post!
(NOTE: I originally published this post in October and am now updating it on April 21! Photos with masks were taken before Spring 2022. Masks are not optional.)
Now that there’s even more happening at Bucks County Libraries, I thought I’d give a little update. Because here’s a tip, libraries are probably your best FREE resource for getting the kids out of the house! On average, my kids and I visit at least one library every week. Sometimes, we just go for a quick visit to drop off and pick up new books. But more often than not, our entire morning or afternoon outing that day will revolve around the library visit. First, I’ll check the Bucks County Free Library calendar and look for any Drop In & Play or Storytime events. By now, I know the schedule pretty well, but some of them do vary or operate on an every other week schedule. So be sure to confirm. While we’ve usually only go on weekdays, they DO offer a few storytime events on Saturdays and even weeknights. These 30 minute sessions typically consist of a few songs (usually with hand motions and props like scarves), 1-2 stories, and a sometimes there’s a small craft at the end. Occasionally, there have been bubbles or parachute games if there are enough people.
While we attended several of the indoor Drop In and Play events during the winter, I’m excited that more traditional storytimes seem to be making a comeback this spring. These events are still being held outdoors as much as possible, but it looks like the library staff IS doing them inside when needed due to the weather.
After storytime, the kids and I usually head inside to drop off books, pick out new ones, and have some play time in the library. My kids can easily spend 30 minutes playing at each of the libraries we visit. (More on that below!) I usually end up needing to set a timer on my phone just to get them to leave. Before leaving, they usually pick out a DVD from the library to watch later that afternoon. And while we haven’t done this, the libraries even have games and toys you can check out to bring home! Depending on the library, we’ll then head to a nearby playground before heading home. Sometimes we even pack a picnic lunch. And then when we get home, we have new books and movies for some quiet activities. I love these outings because they involve reading and learning, music, crafts, moving around, play, social time … and it’s all free.
If you’re curious about what each of the libraries offer, I thought I’d give a few details. We’re lucky to live within 15-20 minutes of Bensalem, Levittown, Langhorne and Yardley, so we usually just go to whichever location has a storytime on a day/time that works for us that week. But there are differences with each. Below, I’m highlighting some of the differences with the indoor play spaces and I also give tips on the nearby playgrounds. If you want more details about the playgrounds I mention here, take a look at my Playground Guide HERE.
301 S. Pine Street, Langhorne
The Langhorne Library’s claim to fame is Penn’s Little Village, and after 2 LONG years, it finally reopened just after Easter 2022! This adorable area has a child-size school, firehouse, library, grocery store and garage, and trailer. There’s also a small area that’s sectioned off for non-walking babies and toddlers. And a sensory section with a few interactive cubes and wall displays. If you’re like us and have been anxiously awaiting the reopening of Penn’s Little Village because you loved it in the past, you’re bound to be super excited … and possibly a little bit disappointed. I HATE to say that, but that was our reality on April 20. My kids STILL had fun! But, we were regulars there 2018 – March 2020, and I was surprised by how much they remembered, and there were a few things missing. My son used to LOVE gathering the play mail and distributing it to the little mailboxes, and dressing up in the postman and fire fighter costumes. And my daughter used to LOVE playing with the puppets. That was all missing, as well as some of the other toys and a lot of the toys from the toddler area. There also used to be a “checkout” area in the mini library, and that chair and counter was also gone. Overall, it was just more bare bones than I was expecting and compared to what we were used to. I’m not sure if these things will gradually come back or not. I’m assuming it was done to try to make things easier to clean.
I was so excited about going to Penn’s Little Village again that I made THIS REEL!
Penn’s Little Village is for children 5 and under. When we were there, the library did have a table set up outside of the Village with activities for older kids.
If you’re not comfortable with crowds, I suggest trying to time your visit for early afternoon and later. I know that’s hard for some because of naps, but these places tend to be the most crowded in the morning.
Food is not permitted. I heard from a reader here that the day before we went, the floor was a mess with crumbs and snacks! We didn’t have that experience at all, but it made me sad. I REALLY don’t want them to close this area again, so I hope families respect this rule. There’s a really cute area with tables just outside the library that’s great for snacks and picnic lunches!
Outside of Penn’s Little Village, the Langhorne Library has some of the basic toys that most of the other libraries do. There are DUPLO blocks, Magnatiles, tablet desks with ABC Mouse, and a large wooden dollhouse with figures.
When we visit the Langhorne Library, we almost always go to Mayors Playground. It’s 2 streets away, so you could walk there, but I usually move my car.
7311 New Falls Road, Levittown
The Levittown Library completely redid their children’s area within the past few months. There’s now an entire new room that has a giant Lite Brite wall with big colorful pegs for kids to create designs. There’s a light-up table with magnetiles and translucent colorful blocks. And it has the projector letter game on the wall. Beyond that room, in the same area as the children’s books, you’ll find low tables and chairs, baby dolls with high chairs and cradles, and a large wooden playhouse with a window for puppet shows. There’s also the ubiquitous wooden dollhouse with figures (and dinosaurs!), as well as a play kitchen with a ton of food, and a train table with wooden tracks. While there isn’t a playground super close to the library, my kids probably enjoy the inside play area here the best. (Well, not counting the currently closed Penn’s Little Village!)
As I said, this library doesn’t have a playground right next to it like some of the others. But it isn’t far from Falls Township Community Park, Bristol Township Community Playground, or even the small neighborhood playground in Cobalt Ridge.
1080 Edgewood Road, Yardley
MORE EXCITING NEWS!!!
The Yardley Library is home to Career Corner, a cute children’s play area with miniature versions of a diner, animal hospital and a construction site. And as of now (April 20), it is OPEN again!!!
This area is similar to Penn’s Little Village but much smaller. My kids actually really enjoyed it though. There was play food and magnetic food in the diner area, wooden roll-along animals in the pet hospital, and cool foam building toys in the construction zone. We didn’t start going to the Yardley Library until 2020, so they’d never played here before. It was great for something different.
Outside of Career Corner, there’s a small play area with Duplo blocks, magnetiles, a table with wooden puzzles and games, the large wooden dollhouse, and desks with tablets with ABC Mouse.
Kids Kingdom is just a short walk (or super short drive) across the parking lot from the library. This is a really cute wooden castle-themed playground.
150 S. Pine Street, Doylestown
Doylestown is far enough away from me that we haven’t gone to the library yet. But if you live nearby, I know it has a beautiful outdoor garden area called The Backyard.
491 Arthur Avenue, Perkasie
I haven’t visited the Perkasie Library, but I know it has an outdoor garden space. If you know of highlights, feel free to message me or comment on this post!
401 West Mill Street, Quakertown
I haven’t visited Quakertown Library. If you know of highlights, feel free to message me or comment on this post!
3700 Hulmeville Road
NOTE: The Bensalem library is being renovated right now and has been closed since March 7.
The highlight of the Bensalem library for my son is that there’s a LEGO wall! There’s a huge wall covered in LEGO baseplates, so that the kids can make LEGO masterpieces right on the wall. In front of the wall, there are waist-high bins full of LEGO bricks. If you’re worried about toddlers around the little pieces, the LEGO wall is placed in a separate area from the baby/toddler books and toys that are more appropriate for those ages.
In addition to the LEGO wall, there’s a room with a play kitchen and food, tablets with ABC mouse, and a new projector game. The game actually projects scrambled letters and the outline of a word on the wall, and children use their hands to move the letters to the correct spots. It then gives a definition of the word, and there are cute cartoon characters that demonstrate the word.
And in the final room (these all flow into each other), there’s a huge wooden dollhouse with furniture and figures, a train table with wooden tracks, magnetiles, and building toys.
Imagination Playground is right next to the Bensalem Library, meaning you can park once and visit both destinations.
If you want a playground that’s a little quieter/less well-known, there’s another playground just a short walk or 2 minute drive away. This one is called Boat Playground, and it’s located by the Bensalem ampitheater, behind the Police and next to the Bensalem Municipal Building.
In any event, if you’ve never gone before or your kids simply don’t remember all of those details like mine, you won’t know any better. This is a great spot for imaginative play, and storytime is also back as well!
I’ve only listed the libraries that are part of the Bucks County Free Library Branches. There are also District Member Libraries which include Fallsington, New Hope & Solebury, Northampton Township, Grundy Memorial, Morrisville, Pipersville, Riegelsville, Southampton, Lower Southampton, Wrightstown and Warminster!
You CAN use your BCFL card at Community/District Member Libraries! In addition, the District Libraries are where you want to go to borrow museum passes. To find out which libraries have passes available, you go to the buckslib.org and search for “museum pass” in the search box. It will tell you where to go. You must go directly to the location and request to borrow the pass.
I hope this post has given you a little more insight as to how your children can have fun at the local library. Of course, books are usually the main reason to visit. But there are additional opportunities for fun!