Library Reopening with Limited, In-Person Services

Central Library will reopen for some in-person services on a limited basis Monday, Sept. 28. Additional in-person services will begin at our remaining buildings on Tuesday, Oct. 13. Read more about this new phase of our reopening plan, called DMPL Express, HERE.

The Five Simple Steps to Success

Simple Steps

It's never too early to begin introducing books into your child's life. Even before they begin learning to read, children are developing skills that will help them learn sounds, write letters, and recognize words. Just hearing both new and numerous words has been proven to give children a head start in reading success.

That's the crux of the library's 5 Simple Steps to Success program. Children learn best by doing things, and these are steps you can do with your child anytime, anywhere. We know with schools closed this past spring and many childcare centers still closed or in limited operation, everyone is spending a lot more time at home together. Don't forget to actively find time in the day to practice these skills. It's a great opportunity to involve more of these steps into your daily routines while on walks, in the backyard, while making dinner, or during other family activities.


Read with your child by pointing out letters and words in the world around you - on signs while walking or driving, on packages and pieces of mail, on trucks and trains, and more. Go through a recipe and read common words and phrases.

Try to create a routine by setting aside a 15-minute block each day to read to your child. Don't be afraid to read the same story over-and-over again either! Children learn though repetition, and they get excited about reading by learning.


Write by drawing lines, squiggles, and shapes. Start with paper, and then head outside and use sidewalk chalk to recreate those drawings. Use play dough to make letters, shapes, and words too! Shaping the play dough helps strengthen hand muscles important in learning to write.


Sing songs slowly to help you children learn sounds and vocabulary. You can sing in the car, while making dinner, before bed, or whenever else you have a free moment.

Just like with books, it's a great idea to sing the same songs over-and-over again. Children gain confidence through learning the words and melodies and the skills they gain in memorization


Play with your child in a variety of settings. You can play "I Spy" while hanging out in the backyard, dress-up on a rainy afternoon, or use socks to put on a puppet show.

Create your own toys with empty boxes, measuring cups, plastic containers, socks and yard, and more. Playing helps children develop creativity and gives them a chance to practice new vocabulary.


Talk with your child to help them learn about language. Conversations help increase their vocabulary and teach children listening skills. Don't be afraid to use big words.

Ask children about their feelings, discuss a story with your child as you read it to them, and make predictions with them about what might happen next in a story you're reading, watching, or listening to.

Simple steps to success logo

The Des Moines Public Library, with support from Polk County Early Childhood, has created book lists, activities, and other materials to assist parents and caregivers. You can learn more by going to our Simple Steps to Success website

It's easy to do, every day, wherever you are. Read, write, sing, play, and talk. They're the five simple steps to success!


Published on June 09, 2020
Last Modified September 27, 2020