Note: For the first part of the article on Children friendly libraries click here.
Previously, I wrote about some of the city’s branches on the left bank of the Vltava that have offerings for English speaking children. This time, I’ll cover the options on the other side.
A complete list of Prague branches can be found at: http://www.mlp.cz/cz/kontakty/pobocky.
Ústřední knihovna – Central Library
Mariánské nám. 1/98, Prague 1
Prague’s main library and main contact for the entire network Mestska Knihovna is located just off Staromestske nam. This regal looking building houses theatre, art, and music departments- as well as a Pragensia section, devoted to Prague and its history. The children’s department is bigger, and the English language books fill a whole bookcase. There are many German and French books, too. Perhaps it’s thanks to the British Council, which donated their collection, that the books here are modern and interesting. I found an armful of good reads.
Events: Every third Thursday there is a story/play hour for preschoolers, but not in English.
Parking: Central Prague, so there’s not much chance of parking nearby.
While you’re in the downtown area, why not stop by the impressive National Library of the Czech Republic at Klementinum 190 or the gorgeous Baroque library Strahovská knihovna, at the monastery at Strahovské nádvoří 1/132 for a quick peek at what libraries looked in the past.
You can admire the grandeur while talking about how valuable books were in a time when TVs and computers didn’t exist. Discuss with your children how these books were written by hand (“How long do you think it would take?”), and how the printing press changed the world forever so that more people could read (“Most people couldn’t read back then – only the few who were lucky enough to go to school”). It’s good for kids to hear that they’re lucky to go to school.
Outer areas of Prague and the branches of Žižkov and Vinohrady don’t offer much beyond the small and outdated kids sections covered so far. But there are two libraries that you should definitely visit, if you decide to visit any libraries at all: Christian Library and the Korunní branch.
NEW English Language Kids Department at Korunní Branch Library
Korunní 68/2160 Prague 10
Last year, Class Acts embarked on an ambitious project funded by the US Embassy and in partnership with Masarykovo University called Storybridge.
The aim is to develop and deliver storytelling training to school teachers of English in Prague using outstanding children’s books. To that end, they set a goal of collecting 500 English language children’s books, which would live at the Korunní branch.
Expat residents and the big international schools gave so generously that now the collection is over 1500 volumes! Assimilating it all is still underway, but on November 2nd, organizer Leah Gaffen held a bi-lingual press conference to officially open the collection to the public. There are currently four bookcases full of wonderful books in circulation, with more to come.
Events: Class Acts will use the Korunni space to host storytelling in English, a fun program that includes books, music, puppets, and crafts. As a follow up, starting in 2012, PACK will host monthly family meetings at the newly renovated playground nearby. Every Thursday at 14:30 the library hosts a Czech story hour and crafts workshop for kids.
Parking: Paid parking by the hour on Korunni street.
Prague Christian Library
Baranova 32 Prague 3
Don’t be intimidated by the name; this laid-back library is not an overly religious space and no one is going to try to convert you. For that matter, they won’t even bother you as you’re browsing the collection, unless you would like some help – in which case everyone is very helpful. Kid browsers are also welcome; in fact, the library uses a system where each child may choose a colorful bookmark to insert wherever a book is removed, so it can be easily put back again.
The top shelf is the strictly Christian collection: scripture and bible tales, but with cuter graphics. The large collection on the shelves below is just as Christian – but without the biblical references. By Christian here, I mean: promoting good values. That’s the best way to summarize the kinds of books you find here. Here are quality books – some classic, some modern – but overall they’re wholesome books with a focus on personal development – important to us all, but especially growing kids. We’ve found some real gems here.
You may browse the collection as long as you like, but to borrow you need at least the minimum 3-month individual membership which costs 125.
Events: Children aged 3-7 are invited to English language story hour, held at the library on the second and fourth Saturday mornings of each month starting at 10:00. Story time includes crafts, songs and games.
Parking: The most consistently reliable option would be to take advantage of the 30 minute free parking of Flora and take the short walk over.
One last thing! This isn’t a library – but a bookstore – where you are welcome to read aloud to your kids in the lounge area – or join in for free storytelling hours. In May 2011, two ladies – one German, the other French – opened Amadito & Friends, an international children’s bookstore. They stock excellent books in English, French and German. Books make great gifts, and some are destined to be heirlooms so as much as I love a public library, I enjoy building my kids’ private collection too with educational, fun and quality books. (http://www.amadito.com/home.html)