Are you thinking of incorporating play spaces into your library, designing a new library space or something in between? If you are looking for a good place to start, some research to support play and steps to take to make it all happen, you might be having a hard time.
When I first started working to incorporate play in libraries 5 years ago there were little to no resources on how play might look in a library or how to get started. Since then there have been many ground breaking libraries who have presented conference sessions, written blog posts and posted information on webpages. Then the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read, released in 2011 included a great module on Learning Spaces in Libraries. Over the years, information has become easier to find as research on the value of play has become an important message in early literacy. Best practices, ideas for types of play and practical steps for incorporating play in libraries are harder to find.
“The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” by Dorothy Stoltz, Maria Conner and James Bradberry is a great resource no matter how big or small your learning space project. This practical guide provides research in support of play, steps to creating play spaces, planning guides, examples of play spaces and management tips. The information in this book is applicable to any size library or play space project and highlights how these spaces are supported by research and early literacy goals. It is to read from cover to cover or to use as a step by step guide. I wish I had something like this when I was getting started!
I love this empowering excerpt from the book that highlights the true power of play.
“Play is a first step in life by which a child can mature into a thinking person….Although play is important, it is not an end in itself, or a time for avoiding chores or ignoring others. Play is “a jumping-off place” that can set in motion the possibility of learning. Socrates set the tone for this kind of play in his debate on the virtues of citizenship in The Republic. He asks Adeimantus to reflect on how the serious play of philosophical leaders who encourage original thought compares to the common play among certain tyrannical political leaders who are interested in manipulating and controlling the crowd. Socrates guides his student to think about how a city or society pursuing noble virtues compares to the individual doing the same—that unless play from earliest childhood is noble a man will never become good. Plato likewise engages in noble play through his dialogues with his fellow readers to pursue the knowledge of the “Good.” He distinguishes between good play—that which leads to the good—and bad play—that which diverts the learner from this goal.”
You can purchase “The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces” from the ALA Store at http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=11157