Growth & Development

Children grow in the blink of an eye. Take a look at any of the links below to gather a little more insight into your child’s development:

PBS Parents: Child Development Tracker
Browse by age and developmental aspect to find useful information, tips, and activities.


Homeschool Resources

Homeschool World 
Calendar and contact information of local homeschools in Illinois.

Consumer Affairs Comparison Guide
The research team has created an online guide all about Online Homeschools for families researching options for educating their families.


Literacy & Education

Biblioboard:  Chicago Children's Museum
Inspired by Chicago Children's Museum's mission to improve children's lives by creating a community where play and learning connect, this anthology includes a variety of engaging and interactive books that are bound to spark kids' imagination, keep the pages turning, and help develop a love for learning. From classics to the hidden gems, from art to science, from bedtime stories to chapter books, activity books and more, these books are perfect for reading with your favorite tots, toddlers and tweens.

Digital Public Library of America
A one stop shop search engine unlike any other. This site is a special project that uses the digitization and resources from a variety of sources, including libraries, universities and government, all in this one location and accessible for free.
This site has lesson plans and activities starting at Kindergarten all the way through high school.

KDL What's Next 
The Kent District Library has a phenomenal site that will help you navigate the order of any series. Use this site to figure out the title of that next book in the series or to find out what others series the popular author of the moment has also written.

SuperSummary: Children's Literature Guide
A comprehensive resource for kids, teachers and parents, including websites that offer texts to read online and literature-themed games; resources for teaching literature to kids; and resources that help guide parents as they work to foster a love of reading in their children.

ELL Resources

Colorín Colorado
Colorín Colorado is a free web-based service that provides information, activities and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English language learners (ELLs).

Read Write Think
A collection of resources designed for Spanish-speaking parents to help support children and teens with literacy learning at home. Links are available in both English and Spanish.


Web Safety

Net Smartz Kids
Play interactive games that teach both safety online as well as offline.

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Welcome to the Library!  There's a lot for your little ones to do and discover in the Kids & Teens Department, and it's all educational and fun:

Discovery Play Center | Puppet Stage | Marble Wall | Activity Centers | Fun House Mirror


Discovery Play Center

One of our favorite features in Kids & Teens is our 3-sided Discovery Play Center, which includes a LEGO wall, a felt wall, and a magnetic art board.



lego wall2 300wLEGOs are a wonderful, popular toy that have been around since 1940.  One side of our discovery play center is a LEGO wall.  We have several bins of LEGO pieces with which children are invited to build and create to their heart's content.  LEGOs can help improve your child's STEM (Science, Technology, Engeineering, Math) skills:

  • Kids develop lateral thinking in a fun environment
  • It teaches kids to think in three dimensions
  • Kids develop problem-solving, organization, and planning by construction
  • It improves creativity
  • It enhances communication and critical thinking
  • It boosts kids motor development

And LEGOs are just, plain fun!  Even adults still love play with them (go ahead, we know you want to).


felt wall 300wFelt Wall

Our felt wall provides fun, educational opportunities to build important, basic skills in readiness, reading, math, and understanding spatial concepts. With our assortment of Velcro blocks, shapes, letters, and numbers, children can make designs, match upper and lowercase letters, form words, build short sentences, and even create simple equations, as well as more.

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Magnetic Art Board

Kids can have even more fun with our magnetic art board.  With magnetic shapes, gears, and building blocks, children can explore spatial concepts and pattern matching to create fun mix & match animals and people, as well as simple to complicated structures and designs.



Puppet Stage

You and your child are invited to make use of our puppet stage in the Picture Book Room, along with our large selection of animal and people puppets.

Learning through play is an important aspect of childhood. Puppets are a fun way to help promote language, social-emotional, cognitive, and physical development:

  • puppet theater 400wLanguage Skills - As your child makes the puppets talk and interacts with other puppet players, they are developing their language skills: making the puppets talk back and forth; making the puppet ask and answer questions; imitating words and language patterns your child has heard, which practices annunciation and sentence structures; your child talking with other kids helps increase their vocabulary and even encourages a shy child to open up.
  • Social-Emotional Development - When playing puppets with a friend, your child must learn to share, take turns, be patient, and share space. Puppets are used by your child to recognize and relate to their feelings and the feelings of others.
  • Cognitive Development - Stories can be told and ideas acted out with the puppets. This kind of play helps foster creativity, imagination, abstract thinking, and sequencing. Hand puppets even help your child make the spatial connection between their hand and how it fits inside the puppet.
  • Physical Development - Fine motor skills are worked as your child moves the puppet’s head, arms, and body. Gross motor skills are strengthened when moving arms around, crouching below a puppet stage, and standing back up again. Balance and hand-eye coordination are learned as your child moves the puppet where they intend it to be located.

Our puppet stage was a generous donation made by the Friends of the Elmwood Park Public Library.  Thank you!


 marble panel 200wMarble Panel

Cool glass, sparkling light, gentle noise! You get it all with this Marvelous Marble Panel. Your kids will be entranced with this sensory panel, with more than 1,000 iridescent marbles illuminated by diffused lighting. As your kids turn the marbles, they receive visual, tactile, and aural sensory input, and experience a calming sensation.


Tabletop & Floor Activity Centersactivity centers 300w

Built for kids 18 months and up, these activity centers in our Picture Book Room have no loose parts, and encourage cooperative play with different activity panels.  Your child can practice color recognition, hand-eye coordination, and even counting.

Our activity centers were a generous donation made by the Friends of the Elmwood Park Public Library.  Thank you!


Fun House Mirror

fun house mirror 200w

An important aspect of your child's growth is developing self-awareness, and in a mirror your child can begin to recognize their self in their reflected image.  

Visit the fun house mirror along our upstairs balcony for a silly take on self-identity.  It captures the attention of both children and adults, as we laugh at ourselves and others with bodies that look short and round, long and tall, or twisted and squiggly. Life is so much better when you can learn to laugh at yourself a little.


Bulletin Boards

In our upstairs balcony area we also have two bulletin boards where we happily showcase little ones' art. Take a look and ask at the Kids & Teens Desk to see how to get your child's art on our boards. 


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Strong Beginnings

We at the Library have a very strong belief in the value and experience that early literacy offerings can bring to your child. Not only do they serve them in the short term, but they provide the foundation for a successful educational career. Below are some of the early literacy highlights we offer.


We have many story time programs designed to aid in early literacy skills. These range from scheduled sessions of story time classes to drop-ins, with ages ranging from 0-5 throughout each week. These kind of offerings mean that there is always a class ready to fit your needs.

Early Reader Collections

We are proud to offer an entirely leveled early reader collection of books tailored to the needs of young readers. These fun books are engaging and exciting for kids and the leveling gives parents a better handle on choosing the proper leveled books for their new readers. These books have been leveled using the Fountas & Pinnell leveling system that is in use in our District 401 public schools. 

In addition, we also offer sets of BOB reader books, Hooked on Phonics sets, and Book & CD kits that provide extra levels of literacy practice for our young emerging readers to explore.

1000 books horizontal 400w1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a fun program that, as the name states, aims to have kids read 1,000 books before they enter Kindergarten. The positive effects of this accomplishment have been recorded overwhelmingly in the progress of young students and the benefits of the program cannot be denied.

The Library is has developed a new tracking and reward system that will make it easy to log the number of books read and recognize the efforts of our young friends.

Visit our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten page for more information and a reading log.  

early readers 400wFiction & Nonfiction Collections

Our Early Reader collection, located near the Kids & Teens Desk, consists of both fiction and nonfiction books for children learning to read on their own. All of the books in the collection are labeled with one of four colors to represent different levels of the Fountas-Pinnell guided reading level system, which is used in Elmwood Park's School District 401. See below for more information.

In the Early Reader fiction collection you can find Disney, LEGO, and other popular series and characters, as well as some of your favorite authors like O'Connor, Rylant, Seuss, Willems, and more.

In the Early Reader nonfiction collection, there are plenty of great introductions to nonfiction topics, organized alphabetically by subject, including:  Animals, Bugs, Careers, Celebrations, Food, Life Skills, People, Places, Plants, School, Space, Sports, Transportation, and Weather.  


Assisting Your Child

ready set read crop 200wOur colored labels are a guide for you to help choose the best books for your child. Try to take the child’s lead when starting on this new adventure. Everyone learns at different speeds. It is always okay to try books in other levels until you get the right fit or are ready to move up. It may also be helpful to try some challenging or easier books along with their current level to build confidence and reinforce skills.

Another way to decide if a book is appropriate is to have your child use the Five Finger Rule.

  • Read any page in a book.
  • For each unknown word, hold up one finger.
  • At the end of the page, if five fingers are up, the book is too hard.
  • If no fingers are up, the book is too easy.
  • If 2 or 3 fingers are up, then the book is just right! Give it a read.

What Letter is My Child?

Elmwood Park School District 401 uses the Fountas-Pinnell guided reading level system. While the Library does not indicate the exact letter for each book, our color coded labels align with the F-P system in the following way. Please use this as a guide when selecting books.  Click on a level to find out more.

early reader green   early reader yellow   early reader blue   early reader orange

Online Sources

These online tools can help to locate reading levels:

Just enter a book title or series. If it is included in the database, results will list all of the matching titles and reading levels. Other leveling systems will be included, but the Fountas-Pinnell system is often listed as “Guided Reading.”

Other Reading Level Systems

While the Lexile system is not used in our local schools, it may be referred to in parent guides, online sources, etc. Library staff can assist you in understanding other leveling systems and locating their Fountas-Pinnell equivalent.


Green - Getting Ready to Read

Green Level books help prepare kids to read. Recognizing letters, their sounds, and simple words, along with using pictures to decode text help new readers to become more comfortable and confident with books and reading.

These books are best when shared with an adult and include: early reader green

  • Matching letters and words with pictures
  • Clear visuals that give context clues to words
  • Large type with a lot of white space
  • Rhyming and word repetition

 Good examples of this level are:


Yellow - Beginning to Read

Yellow Level books help kids begin to read with assistance. They will pick out familiar words and use pictures to identify words and storyline.

These books include:early reader yellow

  • Sight words
  • Large type and a lot of white space
  • Simple sentence structure with a few words per sentence
  • Repetitive phrases
  • Illustrations to support comprehension

Good examples of this level are:


Blue - Beginning to Read on Your Own

In Blue Level books, familiarity and predictability are still important to young readers. However, they will begin to be more comfortable with unfamiliar words and rely less on picture support.

These books are a transition from beginning to more advanced titles and include:early reader blue 

  • Smaller print with less white space and several lines of text per page
  • Varied sentence structure, use of punctuation and verb tenses, with less repetition and rhyming
  • More complex stories with less picture support
  • May have short chapters

 Good examples of this level are:


Orange - Reading On Your Own

In Orange Level books, readers will be able to read on their own and comprehend most of the plot. They will not necessarily finish these books in one sitting.

These books include:early reader orange

  • Less illustrations
  • Rich vocabulary and more complex plots and themes
  • Detailed phrases and sentences, including contractions and conversations in quotes
  • Divided into chapters

Good examples of this level are:


 Transition to Chapter Books

While kids are successfully reading books at the Orange Level, they may express interest in reading longer chapter books and novels.

Chapter books are located in the J Fiction collection and include many popular series and characters. Other standards are:

  • Organized into chapters
  • Higher reading comprehension
  • More complex sentence structure
  • Full text filling the page without much white space
  • Limited pictures
  • Depth of ideas

Good examples of this level are:

For more book suggestions for the higher levels of M-Z, take a look at our other Fountas-Pinnell page.

Additional Materials

TAG Readers kits are available for checkout. Each kit comes with an electronic pen that reads letter sounds, blend sounds (such as “pl”), and words. These touch and talk devices are one of Leap Frog’s interactive educational products.

Hooked on Phonics allows parents to work directly with their child on reading skills and move them along the path to independent reading. It takes a learn-practice-read approach and is based on current research. Sets are divided into pre-reading, Kindergarten, First and Second grade. Take your child all the way through the system or pick the set that will assist where they are now.

Other fun options are phonics or reading-based DVDs and playing reading games on the educational game computers in the Preschool Room.


A Gift to Last a Lifetime

A library card is a wonderful gift for your child. It might be one of the first things that your child gets with his/her name on it. Choosing and checking out library materials and being responsible for them builds self-esteem, confidence in one’s choices, and independence.

There are no age restrictions for getting a card, however, parents must sign a permission form.

For more information, please check with the Circulation Services Desk.

Peter N. Silvestri Cultural and Learning Center | Serving Elmwood Park Since 1936