“We want to provide the kind of environment that encourages interactive and imaginative play for children of all ages,” said Library Director Cindy Mack.
For example, Mack said one of the things the library wants to offer is a versatile play structure that could be a veterinary clinic one day, a farmer’s market the next, and the stage for a puppet show the day after that. For each scenario the library would provide toys and props that would make it fun and easy for the kids to pretend.
Carla Sharp, the library’s head of youth services, said research shows high-quality play is important for kids’ development.
“Play is how kids learn, but not all play is created equal,” Sharp said. “The best kind of play calls upon a child’s imagination and creativity. It also involves social interaction with other people, and conversation – that’s really important for language development. A key campaign in Livingston County now is ‘Talking Is Teaching.’ That’s why many of the items we want to purchase will encourage conversation.”
Here are examples of what the library hopes to purchase:
For younger children
• A versatile indoor play structure with toys and props for imaginative play to help children pretend.
• Themed learning panels that will encourage interaction between caregiver and child, with open-ended questions to spark conversation and curiosity.
• Cozy places for one-on-one play, sharing a book or reading alone.
For older children
• Interactive elements such as magnetic poetry, whiteboard or chalkboard walls, an Everbrite light board or art gallery space.
• Flexible furnishings and fun décor that can support group work, teaching and tutoring, and small group programs.
• Active spaces for gaming (including board games), problem-solving activities, and sharing art and literature.
The library has set a goal of raising $25,000 to make this vision a reality.
“We have a variety of giving levels so that everyone in the community can contribute to the project’s success,” said Mack.
Possibilities range from area businesses securing naming rights on the interactive play structure for three years for a donation of $3,000 to paper butterflies kids can color and post on the wall this summer for a donation of any size. Donations of $100 or more will be recognized on a Youth Department Donor Plaque. A full description of giving levels is available on the library’s website.
The library hopes to raise funds this spring and summer and implement the project later this year, as part of the renovations that will be happening throughout the library this summer and fall.
“The play opportunities we want to bring to our library provide more than a whole lot of fun in the short term,” Mack said. “They also provide long-term benefits that will help the children of this community succeed in school and in life.”
For more information about the importance of creative, interactive play, or to donate to the Brighton District Library Youth Department project, visit http://brightonlibrary.info/support.