Play Café – a place for your little one and you

Colder winter weather can encourage us to stay inside more, but there's no reason to be stuck in the house with your little one all day! Come visit your local library, and see if there's a Play Café near you.

Play Café is what we call our storytime and playgroup for toddlers (ages 1-3) and their adult caregivers. It's like Toddler Time, opens a new window, but longer and with bonus coffee!

Whether you're a relative, nanny, or friendly neighbor lending a hand, you are welcome to bring the child in your care to play! Perhaps you will meet some new friends to invite to a playdate! There are several Play Café sessions around Oakland, with different songs and stories at each one. You can find one that works best for you, try a new one each week, or visit several in the same week if you like.

Play Café, like all library programs, is free of charge. You don't need to register; you can just drop in when you can. (And it's okay to come late or leave early if you need to!) 

Here's what Play Café at Elmhurst looks like:

10:15-10:30 Doors are open! Gather in the children's room after stopping by the desk for a nametag for your child. Get yourself a cup of coffee or tea and say hello to the other grownups while the kids play with trucks, dolls, blocks, and their new buddies. You might see "parallel play, opens a new window", where kids don't interact very much while they do their own thing -- that's normal for toddlers.

10:30 Time to put away the toys for a little... they'll be back later!

10:35 - 11:00 Storytime! 

The children's librarian leads everyone in songs and rhymes with hand motions, in English and in Spanish. We read some short books picked especially for toddlers. We might pass out scarves or musical instruments to shake.

Even if your child wanders a little and doesn't seem to be paying attention, they're benefiting by being in the room with you and the storytime. Babies learn SO much in their first years: just by being in earshot, your little one is being exposed to rhythm, melody, and enthusiasm about reading. They may surprise you at home by dancing to a song they first heard in storytime. You can read the same books at home, or try singing at bathtime or in the car.

11:00 Snacktime! We provide a light snack for kids and grownups, too. Try some berries with yogurt and granola, a black bean taco bowl, or cheesy fish-shaped crackers with applesauce. You're welcome to bring food from home if your child prefers it, and eat together while we catch up. Another cup of coffee?

11:15-12:00 Let kids play some more -- outside if the weather's nice -- and burn off excess energy. Curl up over a board book and let baby turn the pages. This is also a great time to check out some books to take home. Feel free to browse the shelves or ask the librarian what would be just right.

When it's naptime, lunchtime, or time to head to the store before you pick up your big kid from school, leave your nametag at the desk and head out. We'll see you next time!

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