Top 10 Best Local Libraries for Kids: Your 2020 Picks!

Indoor Places to Go

We asked Kidlist readers: What are the best libraries for kids in the western suburbs? These are the top 10 libraries for 2020, as voted on by our readers! They’ve got play areas with kitchens, dollhouses, STEM toys, puppet theaters, games, puzzles, and more.

Many libraries in our area allow you to use any local library card to check things out, so don’t be afraid to check out a new spot. You can check the SWAN library list of almost 100 local libraries to see if yours participates. (On this list, all the libraries except Naperville, Elmhurst, and Schaumburg are SWAN members.)

Top 10 Libraries in the Western Suburbs

Please note that as of December 2021, libraries are mixed in how much of their usual play areas, activities, and toys are available. Photos below are from before any Covid-19 changes.

1. Downers Grove Public Library

Downers Grove Public Library
1050 Curtiss Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 960-1200

The Downers Grove Library has been voted #1 library in the western suburbs by our readers! It features a large play area featuring a train table, doll house, animal barn, large magnetic shapes, blocks, puzzles and iPads. Mouse Cafe is a separately contained area with play food, a cash register, shelves, tables and other items for children to creatively play and imagine. The cafe is large enough for many children to play and have fun together, and it is open to the rest of the children’s area making it easy for parents to still monitor their children.

If you’ve got a baby, don’t miss the hidden baby play area in the northwest corner! It’s got a padded area and mounted activities for little library patrons.

Near the entrance of the library is an eating area with vending machines and tables. (Rachel’s family likes to stop at Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery on Main Street for donuts, then go eat them in the cafe before playing.)

The library staff is very helpful and accessible. They run daily story time (including Saturday morning); some story times are drop in and others require pre-registration. Special events include infant playtime, family movie and game times, Lego building groups, guided STEM activities, and special classes for school aged children when school is not in session.

Located just south of the Downers Grove Main Street Metra stop, the library would be an easy train ride from another town. Downtown Downers Grove has many restaurants and coffee shops, too.

2. La Grange Park Public Library

La Grange Park Public Library
555 N. La Grange Road
La Grange Park, IL 60526
(708) 352-0100

Kidlist reviewers loved the La Grange Park library for being clean, organized, and packed with options for fun. Friendly staff lead events including story times and puppet shows. The children’s area is large and includes tons of books, puzzles, and DVDs, as well as play spaces for little kids and bigger kids alike. There’s also a large media center where kids can play and learn on both desktop and laptop computers.

3. Elmhurst Public Library

Elmhurst Public Library
125 S. Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
(630) 279-8696

Elmhurst is a big, cool library that welcomes kids in with an aquarium display. Babies and toddlers can explore the super cute and redesigned Learning Garden play area while older kids will find puzzles, computers, giant stuffed animals, and fun seating areas throughout the first floor. The staff hosts events like story times, LEGO club, baby playtimes, STEM workshops, and more.

There’s a cafe area near the lobby with coffee drinks and food. You can also bring your own food in to eat at the tables. The library is is walkable from the downtown area, so it’s a great library for a longer outing, too.

4. Naperville Public Library

Naperville Public Library
Nichols Library
200 W. Jefferson Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 961-4100

The Nichols Branch of the Naperville Public Library has many engaging activities in one area for kids. Your children can put on a puppet show, play with puzzles and games, or play with the dollhouses and car tracks. The Nichols branch has interactive mazes and games on the walls and plenty of tables to play games. Readers mentioned story times and the plethora of programs make this library one of the best! The Nichols Branch is located in the heart of the downtown area, which gives many lunch options or outdoor fun by the Riverwalk on a nice day.

5. Thomas Ford Memorial Library

Thomas Ford Memorial Library
800 Chestnut Street
Western Springs, IL 60558
(708) 246-0520

Besides their collection of books, DVDs, audio books, and games, Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs has a Reading Train! Kids can climb aboard and plan imaginary trips, look through books while sitting on little benches on each car of the train, turn knobs and move valve handles in the engine. You also won’t want to miss the iconic Western Springs Water Tower play area with hand puppets to put on a show. The new space has magnetic letters and velcro ramps to arrange an obstacle course for balls to roll down. There is also a redesigned teen area on the first floor with a craft table and plenty of room (and outlets) to hang out and do homework.

6. Indian Prairie Public Library

Indian Prairie Public Library
401 Plainfield Road
Darien, IL 60561
(630) 887-8760

Readers praised the Indian Prairie Library’s rotating selection of crafts and projects for kids to do. New and seasonal books are pulled out and highlighted, which makes it easy to find new reads to check out. There are puzzles, learning boxes, play tables (including a train table) and more. They have a new kids nook with a lot of pretend play opportunities such as the house pictured above and fresh market food stand complete with a shopping cart.

Older kids can play on the giant chess board, camp out on the computers, or cozy up with a book in reading nooks lined with comfy pillows.

7. La Grange Public Library

La Grange Public Library
10 W. Cossitt Avenue
La Grange, IL 60525
(708) 215-3200

The kids area is very inviting with activity tables, a dollhouse, plenty of room to explore, and even a wall with built-in learning opportunities right when you walk in. The kid’s space is clean and inviting with squishy armchairs and tables to read or do puzzles. There are regular story times, craft workshops, music sessions, and more on the calendar. Multiple readers praised the staff for being friendly and helpful, too. The library was recently updated, and we’re with you — two thumbs up!

8. Wheaton Public Library

Wheaton Public Library
225 N. Cross Street
Wheaton, IL 60187
(630) 668-1378

Wheaton has a huge downstairs kids’ area with tons of different play spaces, from a giant fruit stand to a row of activity cubes. There are tables set up with games, including a giant Connect 4 set, as well as activities including “I Spy” bottles. The lobby to the children’s area is filled with interesting displays, including a light-up diorama of the room in Goodnight Moon. The teen spaces are also worth checking out before you head back upstairs to grab a drink or sandwich from the library’s cafe.

Wheaton’s library is walkable from the downtown area, so it’s easy to turn a library trip into a longer outing. Check out the calendar for events including story times and a daily after-school STEAM program for grades 3–6.

9. Hinsdale Public Library

Hinsdale Public Library
20 E. Maple Street
Hinsdale, IL 60521
(630) 986-1976

The Hinsdale Public Library has a STEM-friendly play space for kids! Check out the light table with magnatiles, train sets, and circuits. You’ll also find cozy modular furniture by the windows that creates a great space for your little one to snuggle up with a book (and my three year old likes to just climb on it). Fun chalkboard tables and walls make for a fun fine motor activity during the visit. The Hinsdale Public Library also has a cute log cabin to play in with train tables, puzzles, and games to play with or check out.

10. Glen Ellyn Public Library

Glen Ellyn Public Library
400 Duane Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(630) 469-0879

Glen Ellyn has a big kid’s area with lots of built-in activities for kids. There’s a long table filled with puzzles, block tables, a puppet stand, and more. I loved the tot-friendly activity panels installed at the ends of the rows of books. Check out the calendar for programs including kids’ concerts, STEAM programming, story times, Smart Starts, and more.

Honorable Mention: Schaumburg Township Library

Photo from the Schaumburg Township Library’s Facebook page.

Schaumburg Township Library
130 South Roselle Rd.
Schaumburg, IL 60193
(847) 985-4000

The Schaumburg Township Central Library was a close contender in our top 10 list. Visit the enchanted forest to put on a puppet show, play games and puzzles, and explore STEM toys such as magnatiles and light boxes. Tweens ages 9 to 12 have a dedicated space to read, relax, study, meet groups for school projects, or play games. There are desktop computers reserved for children’s use, as well as iPads preloaded with age-appropriate learning apps.

2020 Local Library Updates

Finally, we wanted to give you a few updates on changes happening to libraries around our towns:

  • The Geneva Public Library is building a brand new facility and is projected to be done in the spring of 2020! They are still under construction but you can follow the progress here. I bet next year we will see this library on the list!
  • The Carol Stream Library is being renovated and hoping to finish in the spring of 2020, as well. The youth and adult services areas will get complete makeovers. They are hoping the youth services are will be ready by the end of March 2020. Check on their progress here.
  • The Helen Plum Library in Lombard is updating their library and hoping to pass a referendum to expand even further. Check on their updates here!

If you are looking for more local fun, check out our indoor play section for more ideas!

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