Child literacy area to arrive next month at Columbia Public Library

Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 1:57 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 26, 2013

COLUMBIA — A child literacy area, incorporating both play and interaction, is coming to Columbia Public Library in late October.

The Columbia Public Library has hired the Burgeon Group to build the literacy area. It will be built, shipped from the firm and installed next to the children's program room on the library's first floor. The library plans to have an open house to showcase the area at noon on Nov. 1.

The literacy area will consist of three "seed pods" and an interactive play area.

The seed pods are kiosks that will have 18 to 20 interactive activities. In an activity called "Spin a Story," a child can spin pictures and create a story from the pictures shown. These activities were selected by Sarah Howard, children and youth services coordinator, Elinor Barrett, associate director of the Daniel Boone Regional Library, and other librarians.

Another interactive play area, "H is for house," will have a kitchenette and a felt garden.

Howard said that each child learns in different ways and the seed pods give children the motivation to discover and explore different ways of learning.

She gave an example of parents communicating with their children. When a child plays in the kitchenette of the playhouse, a parent can tell the child the different items that he or she is holding.

"There are many skills involved," Howard said. "Play is the work of childhood."

These activities also help stimulate fine motor skills, which form the foundation of reading skills, including using eyes to track words across the page or fingers to flip to the next page.

Howard defines early literacy as "knowing about how to read and write before they can read and write." The literacy area is targeted for children up to 5 years old.

These activities are combined with opportunities for children to learn how to read while playing, such as using riddles that both children and parents can try together.

"We are extending the library into the home," Howard said.

Kelly Ezerill, office business manager at the Burgeon Group, said this would be her company's first literacy area in Missouri. Its biggest project was at the Vancouver Community Library, which was 4,000 square feet.

The library had received a $10,000 donation from Mercein and Donald Duncan, which allowed it to invest in an early literacy area. But a $50,000 anonymous donation allowed the library to make the project even larger.

"It allowed us to dream bigger than before," Howard said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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