RobyLane Kelley (& Georgia)
Editorial Intern

Pop-in at the Park, hosted by Kansas City Public Library (KCPL), kicked off June 7 at Lykins Square Park, E. Eighth St at Myrtle Ave.

This kick-off party celebrated KCPL’s 150 birthday — allowing kids to create party hats and decorate cookies. The kid’s café, with food provided by Total Man Community Development Corporation, was also open for children ages 1 to 18. The kid’s café is a service provided by the library to provide children with a free meal. The meals are available at the North-east Branch from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Total Man is a non-profit that aims to assist the community in economic, educational and community development.

Readers unable to make it to the Lykins pop-in event can find other times and locations across the metro on the KCPL events page or the Pop-in at the Park page. | Photo by RobyLane Kelley

Elizabeth Giles — KCPL youth outreach librarian — said the event, which started to get people out during the COVID-19 pandemic, turned into a way to help the community learn more about the library.

“I think we see a number of people at Pop-in at the Park who may not have even known that it was taking place and who just happened to be in the park because they’re enjoying time outside with their families,”  Giles said. “We found that a lot of people who do stumble upon it, really like it and come back week after week. They’re looking for other ways to engage as a family during the summer.”

Readers, who signed up for the summer reading program, picked up their free book from the KCPL welcome table. Summer reading sign-up was also available  at the pop-in event. 

“Summer reading is a great, fun, easy way for kids to stay connected during the summer,” said Giles. “It’s something that everybody can participate in. The whole family can do it together … We’re just happy to have everyone participate in summer reading.”

Summer Reading not only gets kids  involved with  local libraries, but also prevents learning loss.

“It is not uncommon for students to lose two months of previously learned math skills every summer,” said Caitlin Munro with the Education Resource Information Center (ERIC).

Practicing reading skills is the first step to continued learning, according to Munro. Practicing comprehension and putting learned skills to use can further reading benefits. Some books available for readers covered native Missouri plants. KCPL also provided seeds to anyone interested along with information on the seed library at the Ruiz branch located at 2017 W. Pennway St. 

Free face painting  was offered and children could visit  with Missouri State Parks to build their own nature journal. Giles said local assistance, such as the partnership with Missouri State Parks, helps the library continue to bring resources to the community.

“It’s great because it helps to bridge the connection,” Giles said. “It’s great that people are out enjoying Kansas City parks. We love Kansas City parks but also for people to know about the wider range of nature and exploration activities for them within the state of Missouri.”

Each future pop-in event will have its own theme. During Pop-in at the Park scavenger hunts, young scavengers can search for natural items and make them into art before they leave. For a snack while hunting, they can make a personal trail mix. 

Show Me KC Schools will partner with KCPL on select dates with enrollment information.