“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” We think that Dr Seuss got this (and a lot of other stuff) right, which is why we love reading with our own kids in a cosy corner of one of our favourite children’s bookstores in Singapore, sharing a classic tale from our own childhood or heading to the best libraries for kids to check out stacks of new reads. (Besides, borrowing books is a great way to save money!) We’ve put together a guide to our favourite libraries around Singapore: the ones where we love to chill out and relax with the kids. It’s not all about books though! We’ve found libraries packed with movie evenings, art and craft sessions, teen hang-outs sessions and even gaming rooms!
Central Public Library
Pull up a branch in the interactive children’s section, My Tree House (pictured top), over at Central Public Library and prepare for imaginations to go wild with over 45,000 children’s books to choose from, interactive e-reading kiosks, regular storytelling sessions and a cosy reading corner in one of the world’s first green libraries for kids. Yes, there really is a little tree house where kids can clamber up and chill out with a book. Our kids are BIG fans of the cool and quirky Weather Corner too: a guaranteed hit with kids who like to press buttons!
Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street, #B1-01, Singapore 188064; www.nlb.gov.sg
Bukit Panjang Library
The Children’s Zone in Bukit Panjang is a must visit. Situated across the Adult and Teen Zone on the fourth floor of Bukit Panjang Plaza, you’re welcomed to this all kid’s zone by the eye-catching rainbow-coloured book display out front. Think interactive multimedia storytelling room and a cool conveyor-belt return system with a mountain-decorated staircase for the little ones to drop their books in (they’ll love watching them get returned. There’s also wall-mounted interactive boards and colour-coded paths to guide kids to age-appropriate books and genres, and the shelves are arranged into cosy little nooks perfect for snuggling up with a good book. Do note it can get a little loud – it’s an all kids’ zone after all!
Bukit Panjang Library, 1 Jelebu Road, #04-04 & 16/17 Bukit Panjang Plaza, Singapore 677743; www.nlb.gov.sg
Jurong Regional Library
Send your teenagers over to Jurong Regional Library where they’ll find Singapore’s first dedicated teen library service – Verging All Teens – which has been created for teens, by teens, to inspire teens. There’s a huge collection of comics and graphic novels, and this is also the place for them to take part in open-mic gigs and drama performances. Smaller people should head to the Early Literacy Library for a ton of great reads available in four official languages, and kids of all ages should keep an eye for the regular programmes happening in the PIXEL Labs@NL: a dedicated space full of equipment for on-site tinkering.
Jurong Regional Library, 21 Jurong East Central 1, Singapore 609732; www.nlb.gov.sg
Sembawang Public Library
The Babies and Toddlers section at Sembawang Public Library is chockablock with fabulous reads for our tiny bookworms: head over every third Wednesday of the month for fun storytelling sessions and craft activities covering cool themes such as friendship, festivals and folklore. Older kids will love hanging out with a good read in the new ship container-shaped spaces which have been designed with Sembawang’s shipyard days of old in mind.
Sembawang Public Library, 30 Sembawang Drive, #05-01 Sun Plaza, Singapore 757713; www.nlb.gov.sg
Clementi Public Library
Children using Clementi Public Library will love hanging out with friends at the interactive wall: a place where kids are encouraged to ‘ask, discover and share’. Look out for the digital storytelling kiosks and ‘learn through asking’ programs too.
Clementi Public Library, 3155 Commonwealth Avenue West, #05-13/14/15 The Clementi Mall, Singapore 129588; www.nlb.gov.sg
Tampines Regional Library
Bring your small bookworms down to Tampines Regional Library, where you will find regular special activities for kids age four and up. This place is ENORMOUS! Free up a few hours to spend exploring the five floors of books, audio and visual materials, magazines and more! There’s also a cooking studio, PIXEL labs, regular storytelling sessions, exhibitions and guided tours. Alas, the full-sized train has retired, but there’s more than enough going on to make up for the locomotive’s absence.
Tampines Regional Library, 1 Tampines Walk, #02-01 Our Tampines Hub, Singapore 5285230; www.nlb.gov.sg
Serangoon Public Library
We’ve all long since realised that our kids are a generation of technology lovers, so we’re on board with the cool dedicated gaming areas at Serangoon Public Library where children can read and learn through interactive games. If traditional board games are more your thing, then this is also the place for you and your older kids: join the Singapore Boardgames Meetup Group every third Sunday of the month.
Serangoon Public Library, 23 Serangoon Central, #04-82/83 NEX, Singapore 556083; www.nlb.gov.sg
Toa Payoh Public Library
A-hoy there small book fans! Set sail on a reading adventure when you board the children’s section over at Toa Payoh Public Library: it’s built like a ship! Look out for regular story times and art and craft programs too. Older kids can escape to the Teen Zone for some peace and quiet away from younger sibs.
Toa Payoh Public Library, 6 Toa Payoh Central, Singapore 319191; www.nlb.gov.sg
Woodlands Regional Library
Reading is a big must for activating any kid’s imagination, and Woodlands goes one step further with an interactive library that includes an enchanted tree! It is also the home of the Asian Children’s Literature Collection where you’ll find around 8,000 examples of Asian children’s literature and rare publications dating all the way back to the 1900s.
Woodlands Regional Library, 900 South Woodlands Drive, #01-03 Woodlands Civic Centre, Singapore 730900; www.nlb.gov.sg
Queenstown Public Library
Urban kids should flex their green fingers at the Queenstown Public Library community garden: part of the National Parks Board Community in Bloom project, the whole family are welcome to volunteer to help out with gardening activities. This is also the library to head to for movie screenings! It currently shows a variety of family-friendly flicks every fortnight.
Queenstown Public Library, 53 Margaret Drive, Singapore; www.nlb.gov.sg
Need a book in a hurry but no time to get to the library? Or perhaps the book you wanted isn’t available? Either way we LOVE the Ebook Library. Set up your user account and then choose from over 2 million ebooks ready to download with the press of a button.
Libraries for kids aren’t just about a building full of books: back in 2012 the North East Community Development Council (CDC) started a small project called Mobile Library. Carts have been sprung up in HDB void decks around the north east of the island, making book borrowing easy peasy for all. There are currently around 50 kiosks, including the one pictured above, which has popped up outside a primary school in Tampines.
Lead image: Tracy Tristram
Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy: