Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Story Starts Here…

This post was contributed by Exhibits Director Robin Meisner.

Children learn to love reading at a very young age, so the Museum’s exhibits team was excited to be commissioned by Providence Public Library to transform their young children’s room into the Chace Children’s Discovery Library, a purposefully designed space for children ages birth to 8 and their adult caregivers.
Concept drawing by Graphic Designer Valerie Haggerty-Silva.

The Library’s goals for the space – to open on Saturday, January 28 – are to foster young children’s love of reading, promote parents and caregivers’ understanding of the importance of early literacy activities, and provide professional support for early childhood educators.

As designers and educators, our job was to turn these written goals into playful activities, environments and messages to surround and support the Library’s rich collection of children’s books.

This morning, after months of planning, design and fabrication and three weeks of installation, the room was opened for a sneak preview to 32 preschoolers and their teachers from the Dr. Pat Feinstein Child Development Center and to early childhood educators from around Rhode Island. Their reactions were wonderful to see and hear!

Soft rolling hills of storybook phrases welcome library patrons through the doorway.
First lines from beloved children’s books swirl around the walls and columns. 
“The Forest,” a whimsical woodland environment that inspires imagination and storymaking with a tree trunk hideaway, giant leaves and other playful props. An artful alphabet mobile of translucent green and yellow birch leaves with letters hidden among them hangs overhead.
Intricately carved alphabet-block doors open to reveal astronauts and apples, bears and balls and other alliterative objects from A to Z.
Throughout the room, engaging kits and interactives welcome children to explore and discover.
Nestled into a quiet corner, comfy chairs built for adults and children to share encourage reading together.

Play (and, especially, pretend play) is a literacy activity, and we hope the new space will inspire a love of stories, books and reading. We also hope that caregivers will come away from their experience at the Library with a better understanding of the role of play has in children’s development. And, from what we observed this morning, we think this might just happen.

Coming soon: learn about the process of creating the Children’s Discovery Library, and celebrate the grand opening on Saturday, January 28 from 12:30 to 5:00 PM! To learn more about the opening events, visit

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