Big Launch 2!!

During our planning for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, we also challenged ourselves to develop Play Learn Read early literacy areas similar to what Hennepin County (MN) libraries did.  The idea is to create areas in the library that are print rich and use play to help encourage parents and children to discover the fun of literacy.

Our three early childhood specialists and storytime gurus on the Children's Department team took up the gauntlet thrown and began planning what they would develop in late summer of 2010. After a team meeting to look at what we could afford, they plunged ahead. They developed and prepared many activities including: a tabletop puppet theater for dramatic play; story boards to encourage kids to tell the story; and examples of print that show parents that their preschooler is already a reader. Also on tap is a growth chart and a "Letters in my Name" activity as well - even the bathrooms contain a color matching activity). The plan is for these activities to change often. We also decided to house the Early Childhood Resources (Parent/Teacher)collection in this area as well as a display of great picture books for families to share.

A logo was developed based on 1000 Books and the team developed identifying signs and bright big letters for the area.  Now when families enter the Children's area, they are greeted by an inviting area that encourages reading, quiet play and discovery.  We have simple encouraging statements and highlight the six pre-literacy skills in easy to understand language:
  • I Like Books - Have fun reading together!
  • I See Words -Share letters and words
  • I Hear Words - Help children hear the sounds of words and letters
  • I Know Letters - Help children identify letters and numbers
  • I Know Words - Share books and stories to increase vocabulary
  • I Can Tell a Story- Help children understand story structure

We rolled out the area at the same time that we launched 1000 Books B4K. We knew these were natural supports for each other.  For the past week, we have watched parents interact with their kids and use all the early literacy center areas.  It makes us feel really great to have encouraged a perfect use of our library and its spaces!


  1. Our little tabletop puppet theatre is probably one of the best purchases I have ever made. I ordered a few hand puppets from a catalogue, but mostly supplement it with $1 puppets from the dollar store as things wear out. It gets used several times a day, with absolutely no prodding on my part, and it's fantastic to eavesdrop as kids retell favorite stories or make up their own. Saving this post to steal some more ideas - after summer reading!

  2. Love it, love it, love it! Can I come over and play? I know your families are going to adore your new area. Keep up the wonderful work you're doing!

  3. We've been developing an early literacy area at my library too, thanks to a donation from our Circle of Friends: easily accessible/browse-able/move-able board book shelving, 2 AWE early literacy stations (http://www.awe-net.com/) + 2 Burgeon early literacy play cubes (http://www.burgeongroup.com/).
    I'll have to steal some of your ideas - they're great! Thanks!
    - Meagan A.