Thanks to a 2015 proposal last year from Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen, the DC Public Library presents Books from Birth, part of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to help foster early childhood literacy. All children enrolled in the program will receive a new book by mail every month from birth until the age of five — for free!
As DC Public Library notes, “Even at an early age, reading to young children is the best thing you can do to put them on a path to success. Your kids pick up new words, have fun while they learn, and develop skills they will need later in school.”
The Library wants to make reading with your child fun and easy. All parents have to do to receive the monthly free books is register here. Children must live in DC to participate.
Tuesday – The National Building Museum is hosting its Book of the Month program at 10:30am & 11:30am with readings of Urban Animals by Isabel Hill along with a hands-on activity. Get there early for play time in the Building Zone, as they now have timed entries that start on the hour. And don’t forget that admission is $3/person.
Wednesday – Explore imagiNATIONS, the American Indian Museum’s new family activity center. Weave a giant basket, build an igloo, check out models of native dwellings, read children’s books about American Indian culture, and more. This post from a couple of days ago has more details and photos of the new space.
Thursday – Take the kids to play at Clemyjontri, the brilliant, sprawling playground in McLean that accommodates kids of all abilities. Pack food for lunch in the picnic pavilion (the few vending machines only serve juice and water). Admission is free, hours are 7am to dusk.
Friday – Engage in imaginative play in the various themed rooms and crafts areas at the Playseum. Admission is $6/person (siblings under 10 months are free) and is good for the whole day. Locations in Capitol Hill and Bethesda are convenient to many eateries for lunch before or after, depending on when you go.
Beat that case of the Mondays and the rest of the weekdays, for that matter, with these recommendations for weekday fun.
Monday – Enjoy story time or just go check out some books at your local library.
Tuesday – Take the kids to play amid the lovely wooded setting of Cabin John Regional Park. They can climb, swing, jump, slide, and run on the sprawling Adventure Playland. And don’t miss a ride through the woods on the nearby Miniature Train.
Wednesday – See a puppet show especially for little ones at Glen Echo Park. Panda-Monium is the day’s scheduled Tiny Tots show at The Puppet Co. Afterward, hit the playground, take a spin on the carousel, and enjoy a picnic lunch.
Making the kids wait until Halloween to don their costumes and get into the spooky spirit is a non-concept in our household. Weeks ago, my babes started dressing up in their trick-or-treating best for play dates, birthday parties, even trips to the grocery store. This week, however, there are some events happening around town where their fantasy garb will actually be apropos before the official candy fest start. If you want your kids to get some extra wear out of their outfits — and have some fun, to boot — here’s where they can get their Halloween on during the weekdays leading up to the holiday. (Weekend events to come soon!).
Cabin John “Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Head to Cabin John Regional Park for some spooktacular fun any evening this week from 6 – 9pm. The highlight is the “Eye Spy” Halloween Train, recommended for kids ages 8 and under, that snakes through the dusky woods. Passengers can look for Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off on special “Eye Spy,” cards which they upon admission along with a glow in the dark bracelet. For all ages: Halloween movies in the great outdoors and other Halloween activities and games. Cost is $6/person or $5 with a donation of canned food. Train ride tickets will be available for purchase from 2 – 6pm for specific boarding times (on the half-hour) for that same evening at the Train Station each day. After 6pm, a limited supply of tickets will be available for purchase as well.
Haunted Train Ride at Wheaton Regional Park
For a train ride with a little more boo power, Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel will deliver a Halloween thrill. From 6 – 9pm through October 31, the $6 admission ($5 with canned good donation) includes a train ride through the dark woods, a ride on the Creepy Carousel, entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns, and face painting on Saturday and Sunday. Same as Cabin John, train ride tickets will be available for purchase from 2 – 6pm for specific boarding times (on the half-hour) for that same evening at the Train Station each day. After 6pm, a limited supply of tickets will be available for purchase as well.
The Great Pumpkin Hunt
On Wednesday, October 27, Brookside Gardens will host The Great Pumpkin Hunt from 10:30 – 11:30am. Recommended for kids ages 3-5, the hunt will guide guests along the trails looking for tricks, treats, and pumpkins. Reservations are required, and you can sign up via the ParkPASS link on Brookside’s website (note course # 114611). Cost is $5. Kids should wear a trail-friendly costume for this one!
Rose Park 6th Annual Fall Pumpkin Festival
This Wednesday from 4 – 6pm, Rose Park will host its annual Fall Pumpkin Festival. Folks are invited to enjoy pumpkin decorating, hot cider, ghosts and goblins, and a costume parade. Rose Park is located between P Street NW and M Street NW, bounded on the West side by 26th and 27th Streets and on the East side by Rock Creek Parkway.
Story Time and More at DC Public Libraries
Many story times at DC Public Libraries will take on Halloween themes this week, and guests are invited to dress up for the occasions. There will also be a few extra events to celebrate Halloween. Check out the calendar to see what’s happening at your local library.
I can probably count on one hand the number of times I visited my local library before having kids. (Quick background: I have lived within the same few-block radius for well over a decade, and the library is an easy, five-minute walk away.) This obviously is no reflection of my love for books and reading; rather, Jeff Bezos is a really, really smart guy and completely capitalized on my deep affinity for online shopping and having packages delivered to my house. (Even though I know they’re coming, because—duh!—I ordered them, it still feels like a surprise when the UPS guy knocks on the door with box in hand. “Oh, wow! Is that a package for moi?”) In short, I bought my books on Amazon.
But back to the library. When my son, Owen, was born just over four years ago, I didn’t have a clue as to what to do with him beyond taking him for walks in the stroller and breastfeeding while watching every Food Network show televised. (Perhaps that explains his odd obsession with kitchen tongs.) Luckily, my neighborhood has an incredible community of parents who stay connected via listserv. Through this group, I found out about activities like play groups, baby yoga, and Story Time at the library.
We started attending the weekly children’s book readings and sing-alongs when Owen was about three months old. I was ambivalent at first, since he pretty much slept or ate the entire time. But I’d read all the literature about how wonderful reading was for babies, even in the early months, so I stuck around. (Not to mention, a little space from Emeril and Giada was probably a healthy thing.) Over time, I could see Owen’s interest pique, and he eventually became an avid participant in the sessions. Even better, trips to the library became regular outings for us. Whether we attended Story Time, read books, or hung out with friends, I was—and still am—thrilled that he found the library a fun place to spend time.
Owen is now in preschool full-time, but my one-year-old daughter, Sasha, is getting the grand introduction to all our local biblio haven has to offer. As for me, I have to admit Amazon still wins for its enormous selection, online convenience, and because I like to receive presents packages in the mail. But I do regularly check out library books—mostly for the kids and, every now and then, for myself. I even have a late fee to prove it.