Public libraries reopened on July 1 and, although all seating and study areas are closed off and all events are still suspended until further notice, families can still visit and loan books on a ‘borrow and go’ basis. And, as social distancing measures are relaxed, children can return to using the many family-friendly facilities on offer.
Libraries are a fantastic place to introduce and foster a love of reading and learning for your children. It’s quick and easy to join too. Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PR) need to show their National Registration Identity Card and child’s birth certificate, and membership is free. Expats need a Student Pass, Work or Employment Permit, Dependant Pass, or Visitors Pass to join, and there’s an annual fee of $42.80 (children under seven are free).
Lynn Chua, Deputy Director (Content & Services), National Library Board says:
“Reading fires up our imagination and opens up new worlds to explore, and it is a habit that we encourage from young. During their school holidays, children can continue cultivating their love of reading either by picking up books from our libraries or accessing our wide array of eBooks on the NLB mobile app (https://mobileapp.nlb.gov.sg).
"In addition to books, there are online activities and programmes such as digital storytelling sessions to keep children engaged meaningfully and productively.”
Here are the nine best public libraries in Singapore to put on your to-do list for this summer holiday…
Perfect for older readers, Jurong Regional Library has a dedicated Teens Library service called 'Verging All Teens (V.A.T.)', a library created for teens by teens, to inspire teens. V.A.T. has a collection of various genres of comics and graphic novels, and in normal circumstances, hosts open-mic gigs and performances to showcase young talent.
For younger readers, Jurong also has an Early Literacy Library with collections for under three-year-olds and four to six- year-olds. All books and audio-visual materials are available in Singapore’s four official languages, English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
There are two separate wings at this public transport themed library – the Children's Zone and the Adults' & Teens' Zones. As well as being easily accessible through a direct connection to the new Downtown Line, Bukit Panjang has some fun features to make reading fun.
There’s a very cool conveyor-belt return system for all books, and a Stories Come Alive Room that uses images, light and sound effects to make storytelling an immersive and interactive experience for all children.
Storytelling is brought to life at Clementi, which has Digital Interactive Storytelling Kiosks where children can enjoy stories and reading activities such as quizzes.
The Children’s Zone at library@harbourfront has a makerspace for children aged three to nine, as well as Augmented Reality books that bring stories to life. There are DIY learning activities such as word puzzles, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) activities, Augmented Reality books, and a Stories Come Alive Room that uses moving images, light and sound effects to make storytelling an immersive and interactive experience for children.
A truly brilliant place to bring your child to, The Children’s Zone has collections for children of all ages, a dedicated audio-visual and magazine collection, and trendy reading spaces and activity areas for parents and children to read together.
This shopping mall library has a dedicated space for early years as well as a section for teenagers, the Teens’ Mezzanine. With its casual seating areas, doodle wall, and digital interactive screen for live book reviews, this area is a popular hangout for older children. There’s also a group of teenage library ambassadors (Inspiring Readers Society) who are mentored by librarians to host reading programmes for their peers.
The centrepiece of this hugely welcoming eco library is a striking tree house canopy constructed with recycled bottles and timber. My Tree House has a library with 45,000 children’s fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as a Weather Cloud feature, which displays real-time weather data from the Marina Barrage. Other green features in the library include refurbished bookshelves, carpet made from recycled materials and energy-efficient LED lighting.
If your child wants to read or learn about the environment and recycling, this is the library to go to.
Designed for families to read together, the Early Literacy Area at Sengkang has a wonderful collection of picture books and first reader titles. There’s also Tween Area for children aged 10 to 14 years.
Amongst the five floors of books, audio and visual materials, at Tampines, you’ll find an Early Literacy Library on Level 3 for young children. This collection includes books for children below three years on the themes of Sense and Sensation, Concepts, Languages, Poetry and Rhymes, and Emergent Reader.
There’s also an indoor playground, cooking studio, PIXEL labs equipped with 3D printers and Arduino, regular storytelling sessions, makerspaces, exhibitions and guided tours.
Woodlands features a unique autism-friendly space designed and equipped with sensory-friendly read and learn areas. the Calm Down To The Library (CDTTL) zone. Caregivers are encouraged to visit the space during low peak periods on Sundays to Thursdays, 6pm - 8pm, and an optional card can be worn to help staff easily identify children with autism so that assistance can be given if needed.
There’s also a huge Children's Collection for 0 to 12 years, which includes 150,000 fiction and non-fiction titles, ranging from books for babies, children’s magazines and picture books for pre-schoolers to fiction and non-fiction books for older children.