Nothing brings together kids of all ages like our Pokémon programs. At several of our branches, including the Franklin Avenue Library and the East Side Library, we have Pokémon Clubs, Pokémon card swaps, and other Pokémon activities. These programs serve a purpose beyond excited chatter and colorful crafts. Youth librarian Jen Leveck says when you get all sorts of kids together, it helps them learn to socialize.
A young child displays his deck of Pokémon cards during a card swap event.
“The Pokémon cards give kids an easy conversation even if they don’t know anyone else at the program,” says Leveck. “Being able to talk to people you don’t know is a skill that everybody needs to master, and this event is the perfect opportunity for kids to practice.”
Chatting about Pikachu, Charizard, and Mewtwo gives kids the feeling of a level playing field, no matter their age, says East Side Youth Librarian Maddie Bassman. “I love to see so many kids, who are maybe a little shy, get together at Pokémon Club and bond over what they have in common – which usually ends up being more than just Pokémon!”
“One mother came up to me after one program and said her child usually doesn’t feel comfortable interacting with other kids,” says Leveck. But when it came to Pokémon, “he jumped right in to talk with children he’d never met before.” The boy’s mom was happy her son had a place where he could go and have something in common with everyone in the room.
A group of children spread out their cards to find duplicates and learn about each card's abilities.
These programs also give the chance for elementary-aged kids and teenagers to interact. At East, teen volunteers help with the program. Bassman says one of the volunteers had a fun conversation with a kid, where the kid thought the volunteer was an adult. “It was great to see the look on his face when she said ‘I’m not a grown-up! I’m a teenager!’ and watch them start talking about what it’s like to be 17.” Leveck adds that there are lots of older siblings that help their little brothers and sisters with trading cards.
Other programs play similar roles, including the Minecraft programs at the Forest Avenue and North Side Libraries. Kids of all ages get together to share excitement and passion about the virtual worlds they’ve crafted with wood, diamonds, and iron. This discussion about their creations sparks their imagination, and as they learn more about what others have done, they are better able to express their own works.
Kids create Pokéballs during a Pokémon party.
Of course, games like Pokémon and Minecraft have spawned a plethora of reading materials. Kids are more likely to read about subjects they’re interested in, and any type of reading can help them succeed in school. All our library branches have a number of Pokémon books and Minecraft books to capture the minds of young readers. They range from picture books and board books for beginners to graphic novels with captivating storylines for tweens and teens.
More than 20 years after the first Pokémon game was released, the franchise is still going strong. Next time you look into one of our meeting rooms and see dozens of kids making Pokéballs and swapping cards, know that behind the colorful characters, these kids are making friends, bonding over a common interest, and learning life skills in the process.
Upcoming Pokémon and Minecraft programs
Minecraft Club - Each Tuesday, 4:00 PM, Forest Avenue Library
Pokémon Club - Tuesday, May 14, 4:00 PM, East Side Library
Minecraft Club - Wednesday, May 15, 3:30 PM, North Side Library
Minecraft Escape Room - Friday, May 24, 4:30 PM, North Side Library
Kids Pokémon Card Swap - Wednesday, May 29, 4:00 PM, Franklin Avenue Library
Beginning on Monday, July 1, the Des Moines Public Library will have new, expanded hours at all branches. Go to our New Hours page for more information.