Library Spaces: Pennsylvania Avenue's Early Literacy Play Center

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By Anjanette Wiggins

Early Literacy Play Center at the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch

Libraries strive to be comfortable, inviting places that people enjoy using. This is especially the case with library spaces designed for children. Like many libraries, Pratt Library understands the importance of developing early literacy in young children. Encouraging reading in young children includes providing engaging spaces built around books. The Early Literacy Play Center at the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch was created with those principles in mind.

The mock kitchen complete with toy foodDuring the reopening of the Pennsylvania Avenue Branch, the new Early Literacy Play Center was unveiled. The Early Literacy Play Center focuses on developing literacy among children ages birth to three. The Play Center is spacious and decorated with bright colors. It features a large play area with a mock kitchen including toy food, costumes, blocks, a slide set, and a set of activity vests. The Play Center also offers a collection of picture books and board books covering a wide variety of basic topics, including colors, letters and numbers, shapes, and everyday objects.

Activity vests to practice using zippers, buttons and lacesThe toys in the Play Center help children learn important life skills. The mock kitchen and the food toys help develop recognition of common objects. The costumes, which include a firefighter, a police officer, and a doctor, stimulate imagination and creativity. The vests help build dexterity by offering the opportunity to practice tactile skills like zipping, tying, buttoning, and clasping. Small puzzles teach shape recognition and problem-solving.

One of the best aspects of the Play Center is the interaction between children and their parents. When children are using the Play Center, they are accompanied by the parent or caregiver. This allows the parents to foster the basic skills their children need to develop during their early years. These are the types of positive experiences Pratt Library strives to create.

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