Monday, January 4, 2016

Read 'n' Play: An introduction

There were toys at my library when I came, seven years ago (I am getting ooooold). However, they were rather...dingy. I've built up the collection over the years to more than 60 toys, almost all narrative/imaginative play. Puppets and books, costumes, etc. I've been wanting to take this collection in a slightly more focused direction and expand to include early-literary focused toys for babies. When I saw on ALSC the idea for Early Literacy Boxes, I decided that was a good starting point.

I received $200 from our local VIP Aktion Club, which generally gives us a small grant every year. I try to spend this on tangible items for the children's area, so they can see their donations at work! The money went towards purchasing toys and board books for 12 sets. I purchased the toys from Ikea and a local store, Learning Shop. The library supplied bags, processing, and I put together early literacy tip sheets for each bag, which I laminated. I try to keep the total cost for each toy under $20 as I don't want to put a burden on families to replace expensive materials if toys are lost or damaged.

The toys can be played with in the library or checked out. They are also available to other libraries to request and schools can request them as well. I've seen several of them in use with therapists who meet their clients in the library and it makes me go all warm and fuzzy with delight. My staff disinfect them each time they are returned (er, theoretically, I should really check up that they're doing that...) and we regularly check the bags to make sure all the pieces are in the correct place.

The original 12 toys are intended for babies and this collection was put together in 2014/2015. I expanded this collection in 2016/2017 with a LSTA mini-grant to include sensory toys for a wider age range, but Read 'n' Play remains directed at babies, toddlers, and children with sensory needs.

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