Libraries, particularly in schools, no longer have to be dull, grey stacks of shelves, drab tables and chairs and scary ladies shouting ‘sshhh!’ Long gone are the days where a library was a place of calm and restful study.
It doesn’t really matter whether you approve of this or not. Public libraries need to entice people in more than ever these days, with the government on a mission to shut down as many of them as possible, they can only survive if they can make the case that people in the community are regularly using the library in sufficient numbers to make it stay open.
One of the ways they do this is to try and make the library a more appealing place to spend time in, particularly for parents with children. Brightly coloured displays, cut outs, posters, novelty shelves, bright, child sized seating, games and events all help to bring the library to life and make it a place worth visiting.
These are the kinds of things you can do with your school libraries to make them places that children genuinely want to visit too, rather than spaces you herd them into because they have to go there for a worthy learning experience.
Children learn efficiently when they are playing. All the research into how babies and toddlers learn so fast and so accurately shows this. It’s why the early years classrooms in primary schools are always such delightful places to visit. There are generally home corners, where different settings are created depending on the topic the children are learning.
Our Early Years unit, for example, has an area which has, in recent years become a pirate ship, a builders cafe, a hide for animal watching when the children were on safari in Africa, and countless other things. Learning activities are made into games and linked to the topics the children are studying whether it be digging plastic dinosaurs out of the sand and counting them, to creating gardens in grow bags and watching plants blossom from seed. It’s all a rich learning environment that allows the children’s minds to grow and expand into the wider world.
A library should be like this, surely?
But with more books.
One school in Northamptonshire has transformed their library into the most magical of places, using a lot of imagination and a few simple props.
South End Junior School in Rushden has created a library space called The Avenue. It combines a number of different scenes or settings where the children might want to read a book, and use their surroundings as an amazing kick starter to their imaginations, boosting their creative journey into the world of books.
You can see and read about what they have done by clicking on the link here, and downloading the PDF ‘The Avenue’.
They have created a magical train platform with a bench for reading, that is just like Platform 9 3/4 in the Harry Potter books.
There is also a train carriage space, a living room space and many other creative ‘rooms’ for the children to read and learn in.
This fabulous beach area is the perfect space to read: Winnie at to the Seaside by Valerie Thomas.
Or you could just snuggle up by the fire and read old fashioned fairy tales: