When we were children, our summers were more makeshift than our own kids’, mom would throw us in her Chevrolet (can’t guarantee we had seatbelts on—it was the ‘70s) and we’d head to the La Cañada Flintridge Library to find a few books. On some occasions, there were screenings of “Escape to Witch Mountain” projected onto a reading room’s white wall.
Fast forward to 2013. The Beverly Hills Children’s Library has undergone an insanely beautiful renovation overseen by architect and urban design firm Johnson Favaro, the dream team behind the also fabulous West Hollywood Library. Light, bright, and modern with pops of playful color, the Beverly Hills Children’s Library invites you in and makes you want to stay. Mamas and papas will want to bring their own books into the Eames-meets-Wonka nooks.
Yasmine stumbled onto the renovation before the branch’s “official” launch. She wandered the 12,000 square feet in awe. Three-year-old Maverick darted from the colorful picture book section to the adjacent little theater, which is complete with wood carved “curtains.” Even baby Malala was smitten by the contrast between the starkness of the white walls and the whimsy of the vibrant patterned and inviting chairs. The Family Place is a room perfect for little ones who don’t quite understand that libraries are meant to be quiet. Designed to encourage kinetic learning, which lays the foundation for language development, this was the perfect place for Yasmine, Maverick and Malala to play with puppets and toys before moving onto the most magical place of all, The Enchanted Woods Room.
The name gives you a hint, but you have to stand in this small but bewitching space to really fall under its spell. Though mini in stature compared to the rest of the Children’s Library, The Enchanted Woods Room has 22-foot ceilings. Your eye wanders up to see larger than life “book pages” with vintage illustrations from classics like Winnie the Pooh, The Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland. Yasmine wanted to curl up in a plum velvet wing chair and never leave.
Outside there’s free two-hour parking, a place designated for stashing strollers, a coffee shop in the lobby with everything from java to ice cream, and—a fantastic bonus—a very friendly fire station across the street for part II of an afternoon out.
But back to the books. We asked librarian Sandra Abini for some recommendations broken down by age. Check out her suggestions below and go to the Beverly Hill’s Children’s Library’s website for information on storytime and so much more. Bring the family out for their Summer Reading Club Kick-Off Party at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 23rd featuring juggling, magic and fun with the Jumbo Shrimp Circus.
This library rocks.
Sandra’s Summer Reading Recommendations:
Picture books for Ages 3-7
Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin
Hey Duck by Carin Bramsen
I Spy With My Little Eye by Edward Gibbs
Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
Age 8 and up
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin
Age 10 and up
Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor by Phillip Hoose
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
With seven children ranging in age from seven months to sixteen years between them, sisters and bloggers Yasmine Delawari Johnson and Soraya Delawari Dancsecs are experts at parenting in L.A. They take a break from PTA board meetings, cooking, and producing films to blog at CityThink each Thursday.