By Elizabeth Fitzgerald
Gone are the libraries with librarians shushing children for the slightest noise. Now we have libraries that encourage play and having fun, all while getting children ready to read.
At Howell, Fredericksburg, Salem Church, and Porter branches, CRRL has Grow a Reader Learn and Play Rooms where children and their caregivers are encouraged to explore. Each of these branches has toys, blocks, letters, and interactive panels that enhance a child’s library experience all while teaching early reading skills through play and self-discovery. What if you don't go to those locations? Never fear! While Cooper, Snow, Montross and Newton branches do not have separate rooms, children and caregivers can still join in the fun with toys in the children's department to encourage play.
But why encourage play? We're a library - not a play center! Actually, we're both. Playing has multiple benefits that help children gain the skills needed to get ready to read. When children play, they often are telling or acting out stories. These may be stories they've made up, or they may be ones they've heard at home, on the television, or in one of our Grow a Reader classes. This not only teaches children that reading and stories can be fun but also gives them a chance to practice narrative skills, which is simply the ability to describe things and events in order to tell a story. Being able to act out a story demonstrates that a child understands what is going on in the book or show. Additionally, observing children playing gives caregivers an opportunity to talk to them and ask questions. Talking, asking questions, and stretching conversations are how children learn new information, including vocabulary.
So, come on in and explore your library’s Grow a Reader Learn and Play Room, and go ahead and make some noise while you’re at it.