The power of play

On any given day squeals of laughter can be heard coming from the newly refurbished “play” room in the Youth Services department. This magical room is one of the first stops that parents and caregivers make when bringing little ones to the library. Inside you’ll find a kitchen, interactive wall displays and even a yellow submarine.

Immediately following our 11:00 a.m. Baby Storytime on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, our Baby Playgroup meets in the Story Room. Soft, comfy play mats, activity gyms and other toys are offered to infants, toddlers and their grown- ups. On Thursdays at 11:30, we introduced a duplo style block and building playgroup. Encouraging children to create, explore and play not only helps develop their socialization skills but also strongly develops their literacy readiness skills.

Through imaginative play, children have the opportunity to bring language into every aspect of their play. Children who engage in “pretend” play learn how to express themselves by taking on a character persona. You may have observed your child talking in that character’s “voice.” This dialogue and the skills required for their little brains to come up with it are incredibly important to early reading success. This skill in particular will help children to understand that books have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It will also help them to understand the concept of narration and how to tell a story.

Children also learn that spoken and written words can stand for objects. The label on the play food box says “cereal;” the buttons on the play phone are “numbers.” Pretend play also encourages them to give new names and meanings to these objects. You may see your child using dolls or stuffed animals as “characters,” making imaginary phone calls to friends or role playing being a grown-up.

 Your little ones need lots of opportunities for imaginative play! You can encourage your child to read their teddy a book, write labels that can be placed on items for making a pretend grocery store, or use a favorite puppet or doll to tell a story to.

Play is a child’s most important early indicator of lifelong reading success! Encourage silliness and pretend at every opportunity!

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