Thursday, September 1, 2022

Library Collections: Read 'n' Play

August 2022. I made a number of changes to this collection during the initial years of the pandemic, but essentially the basic idea remains. The toys are stored in bags and are combined with a book(s) and an early literacy tip sheet. They are aimed at babies, toddlers, and young children, especially those with special needs. We no longer disinfect the toys - I ended up putting a disclaimer on them instead, realizing that people either didn't care or, if they did, they weren't using the collection or were cleaning the toys themselves anyways. There is currently one associate in overall charge of the circulating library of things and a circulation assistant who handles the Read 'n' Play toys and similar items. Associated materials:
July 2020. Time continues to move on! This year there was (or rather is) a pandemic, so in addition to it being time to update and/or retire some toys, I am also putting those which cannot be safely cleaned into storage. These remain popular and I now fund them out of my audio-visual budget. I generally purchase from Amazon, since the Ikea toys turned out to be difficult to replace. I still try to keep the costs low and the toys as unbreakable as possible. Since I added storytime kits, I am also in the process of combining my Imagine a Story toys with Read 'n' Play so they're all one collection.

January 2016. There were toys at my library when I came, seven years ago (I am getting ooooold). However, they were rather...dingy. I've built up the collection over the years to more than 60 toys, almost all narrative/imaginative play. Puppets and books, costumes, etc. I've been wanting to take this collection in a slightly more focused direction and expand to include early-literary focused toys for babies. When I saw on ALSC the idea for Early Literacy Boxes, I decided that was a good starting point.

I received $200 from our local VIP Aktion Club, which generally gives us a small grant every year. I try to spend this on tangible items for the children's area, so they can see their donations at work! The money went towards purchasing toys and board books for 12 sets. I purchased the toys from Ikea and a local store, Learning Shop. The library supplied bags, processing, and I put together early literacy tip sheets for each bag, which I laminated. I try to keep the total cost for each toy under $20 as I don't want to put a burden on families to replace expensive materials if toys are lost or damaged.

The toys can be played with in the library or checked out. They are also available to other libraries to request and schools can request them as well. I've seen several of them in use with therapists who meet their clients in the library and it makes me go all warm and fuzzy with delight. My staff disinfect them each time they are returned (er, theoretically, I should really check up that they're doing that...) and we regularly check the bags to make sure all the pieces are in the correct place.

I later updated the collection with an LSTA mini-grant to include sensory toys for a wider age range, but Read 'n' Play remains directed at babies, toddlers, and children with sensory needs.


Pattyannie said...

Hello, I would love a copy of your read and play. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

Sure! Send me an email at jeanlittlelibrary(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll send you the file on Monday.

Katie Fitzgerald said...

I love these! I wish my local library would do something like this.