Mr. Rogers is credited with the phrase "Play is the work of childhood." A grand statement, and one libraries can use to inform programs and collections--especially in light of the revised Every Child Ready to Read, which includes play as one of the five practices to promote early literacy. Toys are a great, child-approved way to integrate play into the library, and this session had quite a few ideas for making that happen:
- No space is too small for incorporating toys into the library. Whether you have a room, a playhouse, a closet, a table, or just a bit of room under some shelves, you can add toys successfully. Wall panels work, too.
- A small selection of toys is just as beneficial as a huge variety. A child engages with one toy at a time, so a box of puzzles is just as satisfying to a child as a roomful of different items.
- Have programs that highlight play and give plenty of opportunities for kids to play with the library's toys. Start off with a short book and a song, then spend the rest of the program letting kids and caregivers go to play stations. Ideas include playdoh, blocks, letters, etc., all with brief instructions for interacting with the toys.
- Adapt activities for older children, too; they also benefit cognitively from play, and making play a family affair does more to ensure play will continue outside of the library. Supporting play outside of the library is another great reason to have toys in the library, as families can take home new things they might not get to play with otherwise.