A Tour of ALL of the WonderKnook Play Spaces!

Have you visited any of the new WonderKnook play spaces, located at each of KDL's 20 branches? The Kiesel family visited all of them! Mom Natalie shares their experience. 

How did you hear about the new WonderKnook play spaces?

From Audrey's grandmother! Audrey spends her days with parents, who are both work-from-home, or at one of her two grandparents' homes. One day, Grandma Julie brought me a WonderKnook brochure, and our journey began! 

What inspired you to visit the  WonderKnooks at all twenty KDL locations?

We already had visited our "home base libraries." Grandma Marie brings Audrey to the Byron Center Branch. They love attending Miss Dawn's Loose Parts Play. Grandma Julie takes Audrey to the Kentwood Library. They love attending Miss Hatka's and Miss Sarah's story times. Audrey is also enrolled in 1KB4K at the Kentwood Branch; she's currently at Giraffe Level. Audrey will take Summer Ballet at the Wyoming Library, another nearby favorite. We had seen some other libraries before the WonderKnooks arrived, but this was our call to adventure! We pushed ourselves to make day trips to Nelson, Tyrone, Alpine; some of the other libraries further away from our home. We were always surprised by what we found. 

In your opinion, which branch had the most unique play space? How so?

It depends on who you ask! I think it's hard to beat Caledonia's amazing tree house. My husband liked Walker's veterinarian themed Knook. Audrey herself, in true kid fashion, picked Kentwood as her favorite Knook, because she plays there with her Storytime friends. The most interesting aspect of the WonderKnook program is to learn the inspiration behind each Knook, and the librarians are always happy to chat if you ask! We did not know that Comstock Park Library was once the site of the Fire Department, nor that there was a sawmill in Grandville. Kelloggsville was another unique WonderKnook, incorporating the school's mascot into the Knook. Kelloggsville Librarian Cameron was happy to share how they balance being a district library inside of a high school. 

Why do you think play is so important for young minds?

Parents of Quarantine Kids have to get creative with socializing their little ones. Audrey will start preschool later this year. Until then, her grown-ups do everything possible to make sure she gets quality time with other kids! What better place than a library? Playing games, making up their own rules and games, learning to share, taking turns, learning when to sit quietly for Storytime and reading are all obvious gains from spending an afternoon at the library. Other successes include using a public restroom, safely crossing streets and parking lots and knowing how and when to talk to new grown-ups. Every day can be a learning experience!

What advice would you give to other parents who want to follow in your footsteps?

Just plan ahead! Choose two or three libraries which are close in proximity to each other and make an afternoon of it. Check the hours prior to taking off. My favorite days were when I opened the map and let Audrey choose which Knook she wanted to see next.  We had the bad luck of driving up to a Library which did not have its Knook yet. From then on, we called the very friendly KDL information number before starting our next adventure. And absolutely chat up every Librarian you see! We have not met a Librarian yet who wasn't excited to talk about the history of their branch, what activities they offer, the newly available KDL apps or what they have heard or seen regarding the other Knooks. They were also eager to hear our thoughts on our favorite WonderKnooks. 
Special Shout Out: We had eagerly anticipated the Librarian's reaction when it was time to add the 20th sticker to our brochure; would they notice? Or would they just hand us a sticker? The lovely librarians at Plainfield delivered! They excitedly jumped up to show each other our accomplishment, noting that we were the first family they had seen complete the map. A definite ego boost!   
A big thank you to the Kiesel family for undertaking this tour of the KDL WonderKnooks and sharing their experience!