Top 5 Under 5

A rotating list of activities, books, apps and more for ages 5 and younger recommended by Youth Services staff

January 2019

Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson

A wondrous and beautiful A-to-Z guessing game with artwork that will amaze and delight young children as they learn to use the alphabet.

Baby’s First by Nancy Raines Days

Told in rhyming text, this sweet book traces the development of a baby from birth to his first birthday.

Celebrate Eric Carle Day

Join us at 10:30 a.m. on January 12 for a special Saturday Stories celebrating the books of Eric Carle, especially his treasured classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which was first published 50 years ago in 1969. Followed by activities and crafts in the STEAM Studio. For children ages 2 and up.

Family Fort Night

On Thursday evening, January 10, families with children of all ages are invited to join us for a night of fort building. We will use blankets to transform library furniture and shelving into fantastical forts. Then we’ll snuggle into our forts with books and a flashlight for some cozy reading time. We will have a limited number of blankets and flashlights available on a first-come, first-served basis, and you are also welcome to bring your own.

Common Sense Media’s Best Preschool Apps That Are Worth the Money

Feeling overwhelmed by all those “educational” preschool apps out there? Especially when so many aren’t free? Common Sense Media does a great job of curating the good ones, so you don’t have to.

December 2018

The Gift of Books

There isn’t a more perfect gift for a young child (or anyone!) than a book. This special storytime at the library will feature new picture books to share with your family or give as gifts. A booklist of new books that make great gifts for children will be available to take home. Saturday, December 8, 10:30 a.m., Story Room.

Friends of the Library Children’s Book Sale

Don’t miss out on this one-day gently used book sale put on by the Friends of Princeton Public Library. Children’s books will be the main feature and all proceeds go to new books added to the library’s collection. Sunday, December 9, 1-5:30 p.m., Community Room.

Mousie, I Will Read To You by Rachael Cole

A warm and poignant new picture book that follows a mama mouse and her baby mouse on the little mouse’s journey to becoming a reader–from infancy, to toddlerhood, to elementary school, and beyond. Inspired by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to read aloud to your children from the day they are born, here is a charming picture book that celebrates families reading together.

Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show

Feel like taking your tot for a drive? Experience the magic of more than 3 million lights illuminating acres of farmland at Shady Brook Farm’s Holiday Light Show! Encounter whimsical displays and familiar characters as you drive through in the comfort of your own car or enjoy the show on an open air wagon ride (weather permitting). The two mile trail takes about 20 min. to drive through if you’re taking your time to enjoy the sights (on a non-busy night).

Music Together

When thinking about all the activities to choose from for you and your under 5-er, Music Together is a solid choice. It’s a magical weekly class where babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and the grownups who love them come together to play together musically. And they offer free trial classes!

November 2018

Preschool Fair!

Independent Princeton area schools offering Preschool and Pre-K programs will be in attendance at this two hour annual event at the library on Saturday, November 17, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.. Parents can streamline the search process by meeting representatives from the schools all in one place. The preschools will provide information about philosophy, programs, availability and the application process. Whether you’re looking for a learning-through-discovery experience, or a more academic approach; a parent cooperative; a full or dual language immersion program; a full or half-day program; or just curious about the different schools in Princeton, the fair will help you sort them all out.

Bookscape Babies at Cotsen!

This weekly activity for babies ages 0-2 was just added to Princeton University’s Cotsen’s Children’s Library lineup of stellar offerings. Babies are encouraged to get active, social, and build those vocabularies in a special play space in Cotsen’s Bookscape Gallery. Soft ramps, tunnels, and plush alphabet letters await! Bookscape Babies happens every Monday from 11:00 a.m. until 12 noon and requires no registration or fee. Awesome!

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

When the aroma of Omu’s homemade stew fills the air, her neighbors arrive, one by one, for a taste until all is gone except for her generous spirit. Author-illustrator Oge Mora brings to life a heartwarming story of sharing and community in colorful cut-paper designs as luscious as Omu’s stew, with an extra serving of love. A wonderful new picture book for this thankful time of year.

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Palmer Square

Come kick-off the holiday season on the Green at Palmer Square and watch as the town lights all 32,000 lights atop the square’s 65-foot-tall Norwegian Spruce! It’s always fun to catch a glimpse of Santa as he makes his appearance at this festive annual event. You never know where he might pop up! Friday, November 23, at 5:00 p.m.

Baby Boot Camp

These morning stroller fitness classes at Marketfair Mall are a great opportunity to fit in that workout while also keeping your little one entertained and happy! The “mommy and me” programs, led by nationally certified fitness professionals, provide exercise classes, nutrition, and community support for moms.

October 2018

Little Pandas and Letra Pequeña storytimes return!

With the start of October brings the return of our language learning storytimes most Mondays at the library. Through engagement with books, songs, rhymes and crafts, “Little Pandas” at 10 AM is designed to help children ages 2 to 5 years and their caregivers improve Mandarin Chinese language skills. Sessions are conducted in Mandarin Chinese by professional teachers from YingHua International School. The same format is used for “Letra Pequeña” at 11 AM for helping improve Spanish with sessions conducted by native Spanish speaking library staff. Both storytimes run every Monday throughout October and will resume the last week of November.

Fall Festival in Palmer Square

Enjoy live music while savoring seasonal food and drinks on the Green on Sunday, October 21, 12-3 PM. The first 200 attendees will receive a complementary Palmer Square shopping bag filled with special offers from around the Square and your guide to “Treats” around the square. “Treats” can be anything from a delicious snack to an in-store demonstration or promotion. Fall fun for all ages!

Annual Hometown Halloween Parade

Dress up in your best costume and join the Arts Council of Princeton for the Annual Hometown Halloween Parade on Friday, October 26! The fun begins at 5:15 PM on Palmer Square with music by the Princeton University Marching Band before the parade makes its way through Downtown Princeton and ends at the Princeton YMCA. The parade will leave Palmer Square Green promptly at 5:45 PM. The festivities continue at the YMCA with live music, a bounce house, trunk or treat, food and drink, crafts and family-friendly activities, and more!

Herbert’s First Halloween by Cynthia Rylant

Herbert and his father prepare for his first Halloween by making a tiger costume and practicing a big roar. A gentle new picture book by a beloved children’s author. It’s perfect for sharing with toddlers and preschoolers becoming aware of what Halloween is all about.

Apple Days Harvest Festival Weekends at Terhune’s Orchard

The go-to place for autumn fall fun in Princeton is the local favorite, Terhune’s Orchard. Every weekend during October, families can enjoy pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, live music, pony rides, tractor drawn wagon rides, pumpkin painting, pedal tractors, visiting barnyard of animals, duck races, discovery barn, the Corn Stalk Maze, Hay Bale Maze and more! Apple Days Harvest Festival Weekends run until the last weekend in October. Farm is open all year.

September 2018

Princeton Children’s Book Festival!

You don’t want to miss this annual event on Saturday, September 22, from 11-4 PM

Music Fest Princeton

Palmer Square is proud to present its first annual Music Fest on Sunday, September 16! This family-friendly event features two stages with no shortage of amazing tunes: folk bands, Irish bands, jazz ensembles, country sets and rock & roll. Enjoy the music along with food and beverages provided by Palmer Square vendors, as well as retail offerings and activity tables. Fun for all ages!<

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

A warm, welcoming new picture book that celebrates diversity and gives encouragement and support to all kids. All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, they are welcome in their school. A terrific choice to share with your preschooler as they begin their school journey.

New Shoes by Chris Raschka

When a young child discovers a hole in a sneaker, mother and child embark on a big childhood adventure—a trip to the store to pick out new shoes. This new picture book from past Caldecott winner, Chris Raschka, is such a sweet take on a familiar scene of getting new shoes as little feet grow bigger.

PPL Weekday Storytimes resume on September 11!

Weekday Storytimes at the library are back on for our fall session beginning on Tuesday, September 11. Be sure to join us on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursda mornings for stories, songs and other fun early literacy activities. Storytime! (ages 18 months – 5 years) @ 10 AM. Baby Storytime (ages birth – 17 months) @ 11 AM, followed by Baby Playgroup @ 11:30 AM. See you there!

August 2018

Mariana Iranzi in Concert at PPL

Join us at the library on August 16 at 10 AM as musician and educator, Mariana Iranzi, presents a bilingual, interactive concert for the whole family. Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Iranzi gets her audiences up and dancing, playing and singing along with her music in both Spanish and English. For ages 2 and up with an adult.

Toddler Drive-In

Back by popular demand! This annual summer event at the library is always a fun time. Toddlers (ages 2-5) accompanied by an adult are invited to decorate their own cardboard-box car and watch a short drive-in movie. Limited to 30 children, so be sure to register here. Vrmmm vrmmm!

Sesame Street “One World, One Sky” show at the NJ State Museum Planetarium in Trenton

The planetarium at the NJ State Museum is a hidden state treasure any day of the week, but especially every Saturday and Sunday in August at 11 AM. Discover the awe of the universe with Big Bird, Elmo and Elmo’s friend Hu Hu Zhu from China during the Sesame Street “One World, One Sky” show. Recommended for children ages 3-6.

Bubbles by Kit Chase

What young child doesn’t love bubbles? This sweet, quiet new picture book brings two friends together through their mutual love of bubble play. Pair this with a bottle of bubbles for a fun read aloud with your little one.

Common Sense Media’s Best Kids’ Apps to Download Before a Flight

If your August plans include a long flight, train or car ride, check out Common Sense Media’s list of recommended apps for travel with kids. When books and I Spy run dry, these apps cover a wide variety of interests and ages to keep everyone happy and occupied.

July 2018

Rock n’ Rhythm at the library!

Get your groove on and join us in the Story Room on Wednesdays for a special summer session of Rock n’ Rhythm, which blends music, movement, rhymes, read alouds, fingerplays and other interactive activities while enhancing early literacy skills. This program is intended for children ages 18 months and older accompanied by a parent or caregiver.

Wednesdays @ 11:00 AM, July 18, 25 and August 1, 8, 15.

Play This Book by Jessica Young

Music loving preschoolers will be jammin’ along with this new interactive, super fun book. Illustrations and simple, rhyming text invite the reader to try various instruments and join a band.

Terhune Orchards Annual Blueberry Bash

Happening the weekend of July 7 & 8, this annual event at Terhune Orchards is a great way to enjoy the summer outdoors with your little ones. There’s plenty to do for families with young children, including blueberry picking, sampling blueberry treats, wagon rides, pony rides, games, live music, face painting, and even a puppet show! If you can’t make the Blueberry Bash, it’s always fun to visit Terhune Orchards any day for pick-your-own, the outside play areas, and feeding the farm animals. It’s a kid-friendly farm for sure!

The Watershed Institute

While open all year round, the Watershed Institute in nearby Pennington is especially fun to visit in the summer. The top two favorite annual summer events are the Fairy Festival on July 14 and the Butterfly Festival on August 4, with lots of family friendly activities. Along with preschool nature classes, a butterfly house, and educational nature center, the Watershed is lovely to visit any day you fancy a walk in the woods.

Summer Concert Series at Princeton Shopping Center

The Arts Council of Princeton and Princeton Shopping Center present the 35th annual Summer Concert Series, featuring the best in local and regional jazz, folk, world, rock and blues. Dancing with little ones is always welcome! Happening every Thursday, 6–8 pm, from June 21–August 23, 2018, at the Princeton Shopping Center, 301 N. Harrison Street, Princeton, NJ. Don’t forget to bring a lawn chair!

June 2018

2018 Summer Reading Program: Libraries Rock!

Be sure to visit the Youth Services desk on the third floor of PPL to sign up for our PreSchool Summer Reading Program and take the 20/20 Challenge! Read with your little one for at least 20 minutes a day, and when you have completed 20 days of reading (in a row or not!), stop by the library to claim a free book and Thomas Sweet ice cream certificate. Complete up to three 10-day bonus rounds for additional fun incentive prizes. And remember, attending storytime sessions counts! Summer Reading Program registration begins on Friday, June 15, and continues through August 1. Last day to claim prizes is Sunday, September 2.

jaZam’s Summer Block Party

The library will be there, will you? You don’t want to miss this annual party to ring in the summer season! jaZam’s Toy and Bookstore will host this totally free and fun event in Palmer Square on Friday, June 22, 6:00-9:00 PM. Activities include crafts, live music, demonstrations, favorite local food vendors, and so much more family fun!

Family Concert with Jim Gill!

The award-winning musician and children’s author presents an interactive, energetic concert for the entire family at PPL on Wednesday evening, June 27, 6:30 PM. Audience members will clap, sing, dance and even sneeze along to silly and inspiring songs, rhymes and games. Featured will be selections from Gill’s newest CD: “Vote for Jim Gill!” and favorites such as “Spin Again” and “Silly Dance Contest.” Please note, tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. Children 18 months and under do not need a ticket. All others must have a ticket. Register for tickets here.

Ducks Away! by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

Check out this humorous counting tale of five baby ducks that fall off a bridge into a river, with Momma Duck not far behind. This enjoyable new book effectively incorporates simple counting, addition, subtraction and rhyming text that encourages participation. Quack!

Dr. Panda Train app

This interactive preschool app comes recommended by the Notable Children’s Digital Media Committee of the Association of Library Services to Children. Have fun driving the train and exploring the world. Tour the jungle or steam through the desert–there’s so much to see! As you continue on your trip, be sure to look out for all sorts of surprises! What will you discover?

May 2018

Howell Living History Farm

Spring is a great time to visit when all the baby animals are appearing! This farm of yesteryear is a lovely place to explore and meander. Bring a picnic and enjoy this treasure of the Mercer County Park Commission.

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, her granddaughter cannot wait to see what treasures she has hidden in her purse. Super cute and relatable new picture book!

Kanopy Kids

Our video streaming service Kanopy is now offering Kanopy Kids! Browse Kanopy Kids and find the videos your kids will love, with developmentally appropriate age ratings.

Season of Wonder Puppet Show

Come see Amy Shor, early childhood teacher at the Waldorf School of Princeton, at PPL on May 17 as she celebrates the wonders of spring through songs, rhymes, and fingerplays using simple handmade puppets and other surprises from the natural world. Perfect for ages 2-5!

Lolly and YoYo

Local storytellers and musicians, Lolly Hopwood and Yvonne “YoYo” Kusters, perform at dozens of free events in the greater Princeton area. Their events are always full of music, stories and plenty of movement for little ones. You’ll quickly become a fan!