For the past 8 years while I was an Early Childhood Educator, public libraries were a place I often visited, providing me with resources to plan and execute my lessons. After becoming a mother, this ritual still carries on. I make frequent visits with my son and borrow books to read to him.

when should i start reading to my baby

See also: Your bookworm baby: 5 easy ways to form good literacy habits

The interests for reading can be developed from young. Singapore Minister Dr Yaacob Ibrahim shared that “reading habit helps promote self-directed, lifelong learning among those of all ages.” Unfortunately, since the introduction of e-books, the number of people visiting libraries and loaning books have declined steadily.

With that in mind, the Singapore National Library Board (NLB) has rolled out initiatives such as the National Reading Movement, launched on 3 June 2016 and the National Reading Day, which was marked on 30 July. Over the years, our libraries have also been revamped to cater to young families, with more conducive and inviting space for children.

See also: What Kind Of Books Do Singapore Ministers Read?

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Top 5 Child-Friendly Libraries You Must Visit

If you stay in the North

Woodlands Regional Library

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What’s unique: If you are looking to expose your child to Asian heritage, culture and stories, this is the library to go to. The children’s section has an impressive Asian Children’s Literature (ACL) Collection which is divided into ‘4 Worlds’ – The World of Stories, The World of Languages, The World of Creativity and The World of Learning.

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Where: 900 South Woodlands Drive #01-03, Singapore 730900

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 10 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5 pm on eves of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Closed on Public Holidays

How to get there: Nearest MRT – Woodlands, Bus Interchange – Woodlands. Buses: 169, 178, 187, 856, 858, 900, 900A, 901, 902, 903, 904, 911, 912, 913, 925, 925C, 926, 950, 960, 961, 961C, 962, 963, 963E, 963R, 964, 965, 966, 969

If you stay in the North

Sembawang Public Library

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What’s unique: This is the second library that provides an Early Literacy Section (for children 6 years and under). It also has handy toys in this section. For the older kids aged 7 to 9 years old, there is the Young Readers Area, with Interactive Digital Story Telling Kiosks and tablets installed with educational applications to use and explore.

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Mark your calendar on every third Wednesday of the month because that’s when Sembawang Public Library holds a Thematic Storytelling and Readers’ Advisory session for the public. This session includes storytelling and activities led by the librarians, who will be present to address any of your queries or recommend books for you and your child.

Where: 30 Sembawang Drive #05-01 Sun Plaza  Singapore 757713

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5 pm on eves of Christmas, New Year  and Chinese New Year. Closed on Public Holidays

How to get there: Nearest MRT Sembawang. Bus Interchange – Sembawang. Buses 117, 167, 656, 858, 859, 882, 962, 980, 981

If you stay in the East

Pasir Ris Public Library

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What’s unique: The library underwent a revamp and reopened in late November 2015, and introduced an Early Literacy Library in their children’s section, a reading corner designed especially for children. In this section, bookshelves are lower, making it more inviting and accessible for children to pick books independently.

The design of the shelves allows each book to be displayed with their cover in front, where the little readers can immediately see the cover of the books instead of just the book spine. There are chairs with different heights and size, making the parent-child reading even more comfortable.

Besides unveiling a brand new look, the library also introduced the Auto-Sorter and Shelf-Reading Robot from NLB and A*STAR. Don’t be alarmed if you ever see a robot moving around!

Where: 1 Pasir Ris Central St 3 #04-01/06 White Sands, Singapore 518457

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 11 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5 pm on eves of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Closed on Public Holidays

How to get there: Nearest MRT Pasir Ris. Buses 3, 5, 6, 12, 15, 17, 21, 58, 88, 403, 518

If you stay in the Central

Queenstown Public Library

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What’s unique: Besides it’s rich archives of books and resources, libraries also offer a variety of programs and hold events for children and adults. The Queenstown Public Library holds a movie screening every fortnight on Saturday from 4 pm to 6 pm. Before the movie screening, children are kept engaged in a series of short and fun games.

Every last Sunday of the month, hop on to The Heritage Trail conducted by My Community and Library staff, to learn more about your neighborhood and uncover history you never knew about your library.

Where: 53 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149297

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 10 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5 pm on eves of Christmas, New Year  and Chinese New Year. Closed on Public Holidays

How to get there: Nearest MRT Queenstown. Buses 32, 122 via Margaret Drive, 51, 111, 145, 186, 195, 970 via Commonwealth Avenue

If you stay in the Central

Central Public Library

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What’s unique: Touted as the World’s first Green Library for children, the library’s new design, book collect and space layout was all driven by green principles. Simple yet welcoming, my child walked straight into the eco-space, sat down and got ready to read a book in no time.

Do visit ‘The Knowledge Tree’, an interactive facility that allows children to learn about environmental issues through shadow play. There are also Interactive Digital Story Telling Kiosks set up, containing up to 179 e-book titles and engaging interactive activities for your little one to read and play. Have crayon stubs at home and not sure what to do with them? Drop them off at the ‘Drop your Crayons Bin’ where it will be recycled.

Tip: Want to enrich your child’s learning and deepen your child’s interest? Before or after your library visit,  pop by to the nearby art museums around the area such as the Singapore Art Museum, Singapore Philatelic Museum and National Museum. If you need a bite or do some shopping, head to the nearby malls at City Hall or Bugis.

Where: 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 10 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5pm on eves of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Closed on public holidays.

How to get there: Nearest MRT Bugis or City Hall. Buses: 145, 197, 32, 51, 63, 7, 80, 175, 851, 61

If you stay in the West

Jurong Regional Library

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What’s unique: Jurong Regional Library is the first to set up an Early Literacy Library in the children’s section. The space layout and resources available is almost comparable to an Early Childhood classroom setup. The basement, where the Early Literacy Library is located at has a Stage Area and Activity Zone, where play materials are available for children to play with.

The library has carefully sourced and grouped resources that supports children’s learning through play, songs, speech, language and literacy. The collection for children below 3 years old is categorized into themes: Sense & Sensation, Concepts, Languages, Poetry and Rhymes and Emergent Reader. Books and audio-visual materials are available in Singapore’s four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.

The library also has a stroller parking area and a Nursing and Diaper changing room.

Where: 21 Jurong East Central 1, Singapore 609732

Opening hours: Mon – Sun, 10 am – 9 pm. Closed at 5.00pm on eves of Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year. Closed on Public Holidays

How to get there: Nearest MRT Jurong East. Bus Interchange – Jurong East. Buses 41, 49, 51, 52, 66, 78, 79, 97, 97E, 98, 98M, 105, 143, 143M, 160, 183, 197, 333, 334, 335, 506 , 176, 178

If you stay in the North-East

Look out for the newly renovated Seng Kang Public Library which will reopen in 2017 and the new library, Punggol Regional Library which will be built over the next 4 years.

If you wish to find out more about the events and programs or latest update of the libraries, follow them on Facebook or go to www.nlb.gov.sg/golibrary

Photos: National Library Board

By Tan Yi Jun

Which is your favourite family-friendly library? Tell us why in the comments below!