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What better place is there for kids to get educated than at their local library?

Here are 3 fun things going on at Southeast Wisconsin libraries this spring:

Milwaukee Public Library's Big Read: The Big Read is a National Endowment of the Arts community reading program designed around one book selection. The idea is that the whole community reads one book and participates in related discussions, activities and events from theater productions to science experiments to art projects.

And even though Milwaukee's pick for this April's Big Read -- "In the time of the butterflies" by Julia Alvarez -- is an adult book, kids are encouraged to join in the educational fun with lots of great activities. For information about these and other activities, check out mpl.org.

  • April 7 Family Art Night at Walker's Point Center for the Arts
  • Story time with Butterflies in MPL branches all month long
  • A learning all about butterflies program at the Milwaukee Public Museum on April 8

MKE Mixers: "Making" and makerspaces are all the rage right now, but materials to equip a makerspace can be prohibitively expensive. That's where MKE Mixers, a mobile makerspace shared by Milwaukee County's libraries, comes in. Here's how it works: When a library's staff wants to host a specific program, they can request to have a mix box delivered that includes all the materials needed, resources and programming ideas. Some examples of these fun and educational mix boxes?

  • AV Mix: includes a stop motion box with cameras, tripods, microphones, headphones and light cubes -- everything kids need to make their own stop motion videos
  • Textiles Mix: includes pins, needles, thread, cutters and even sewing machines to teach kids how to craft their own clothes
  • E-Textiles Mix: For librarians who want to up the ante on the textiles program, the materials included in this box (conductive thread, sewable LEDs and electronic micro-controller boards) add a high-tech educational component that allows the kids to bling out their clothes with light-up elements.

To see other examples of mix boxes, check out mkemixers.org.

Story time with Grandma and Grandpa: Story times are fun for kids and an excellent way for little ones to gain literacy skills. Southeast Wisconsin has tons of examples that are based on well-researched best practices that emphasize singing, rhymes, storytelling, crafts and most importantly for building that connection that is so important for brain development -- relationships.

Waukesha Public Library has a cool twist that celebrates kids' relationships with their grandparents. Grandmas and grandpas can bring their little cuties in on April 3, 10 and 17 to spend time together and help build literacy skills. Check out waukeshapubliclibrary.org for more information.

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