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Child’s Play is Newest Chapter at the Library

By M.E. Jones CorrespondentMay 25, 2019

SHIRLEY —Parents of young children who may have lamented the lack of indoor public play areas in town will be pleasantly surprised to find just what they’ve been looking for at the Shirley Public Library, where the new Children’s Play Space recently made its debut.

The space was made possible by a federally-funded “Mind in the Making” grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. And thanks to some visionary planning and on-site practical magic provided by Director Debra Roy and her staff, the area dedicated to childrens books and activities at the library has been transformed, with fresh decor, a roomy, re-configured layout and new toys to “engage, educate and entertain,” according to a library flier that invites patrons to “Join us to learn the power of play.”

A nearby pre-school/day care center, Wonderful World of Children, accepted the invitation and the group that came on a recent field trip was ready to do just that. Of course, given the age group — mostly 3- to 5-year-olds — they had the basics down already and the new Play Space suited them to a tee.

After Children’s Librarian Kathleen Buretta read the group a story and rolled out a hands-on puppet theater, the kids were good to go. They fanned out among an array of sized-just-right set-ups.

Which one to visit first? To name a few choices: A market stand with cash register, colorful faux produce and a spiffy striped awning; a multi-story, table-top play house with furniture and figures; a stand-up play kitchen, outfitted for future gourmet chefs. Colorful mats for floor play: a city-scape with wooden buildings and a Jurassic scene with dinosaurs. There’s also a Lego table, a light table and familiar favorites like the wooden train table.

Clearly a playful concept that meets a community need, the new Play Space wasn’t dreamed up just for the fun of it. There’s educational value and science as well as vision behind it.

Brain development studies, for example, show there’s real power in play, that its vital to children learning to interact with their world and helps them develop mental, physical and social skills. Professor Karen Hutchinson of Rowan University says: “Play is actually the work of a child...they are preparing themselves for adult roles...” (teacherkaren@ playandgrow.com )

All that wisdom from kids, just being kids. And places like the Shirley Public Library’s Play Space are not just safe, welcoming spaces with toys, they are perfect places for children to grow and learn. Come to think of it, so is a library, where the world of books is right at their fingertips.

Hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m- 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 11a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. The library is closed on Friday and Sunday.

Free children’s programs include Preschool Story Time (ages 2-4) on Monday mornings at 10:30; Mother Goose on the Loose (birth to age 2) on Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. and Let’s Go Lego (for ages 12 and under) on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month from 4 to 5 p.m.

For up-to-date information and a full program roster, check out the library’s website www.shirleylibrary.org or visit the Shirley Public Library Facebook page.

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