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Build and Play Together

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“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. At various times, play is a way to cope with life and to prepare for adulthood. Playing is a way to solve problems and to express feelings. In fact, play is the real work of childhood.”

Fred Rogers

Before I became a children’s librarian, I started off my career as an early childhood educator. I hadn’t planned on a career of working with children and their families–in fact, I thought I was going to be a famous writer–but after college, I needed a job, and ended up as an assistant Pre-K teacher in a state Pre-K program. Before that, I actually didn’t think I liked children, even though any time I interacted with them we got along wonderfully. After working in the classroom for a while, I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like children–it was that I hadn’t particularly enjoyed my own childhood.

After learning this about myself, I became even more impassioned about supporting children and their families so that they could have the warm, loving, and enriching experiences that I never really had when I was young. After five years spent teaching, where I learned more about child development and best practices in early childhood education, I pursued my Master’s in Library Science to become a children’s librarian, which seemed to be the perfect way to combine my love of literature with my desire to make the world a better place for young children and their families.

Mr. Rogers is an honorary children’s librarian in my eyes (hello, the cardigans?), and his gentle, authoritative style is a model for all adults who interact with children, and even half a century after he first appeared on our television screens, his approach to children and childhood is still the best around. Play truly is the work of children as they learn how to engage with the world and discover their place within it.

But play isn’t just for children! Adults can benefit from playing, too. That’s why we want to put your whole family to work this winter during our Build and Play Together: Cardboard Construction event. Inspired by Mr. Rogers and Caine’s Arcade, we invite you to come play by building interactive games and toys out of cardboard and other recycled materials that can be shared with our whole community. We have five days to build a variety of toys and games, followed by five days of playing with everyone’s creations in the youth department, culminating in one final day of play on January 13th.

Collaborative art projects are more than just fun! Children learn important skills such as problem solving and teamwork, and by working towards a common goal, they’ll develop a sense of belonging and feel like a part of their larger community. We also hope you and your children will feel a sense of pride when you see other families playing with and enjoying something you have created. It might help to talk to your child before coming about how they will be building toys and games for everyone to enjoy, and they might not be able to take their creations home.

A father and a young child work together to paint a cardboard house that they've made.
Cardboard Construction Schedule

January 3rd-7th
Bring the whole family and your post-holiday supply of cardboard to build games, activities, and other interactive creations. The library will supply many materials including safe cardboard cutting tools and tape, but you are encouraged to bring cardboard and other recycled  materials from home to share with all the builders.

January 8th-12th 
Visit the youth department and play with all the amazing things that were built during the first part of January!

January 13th 
Meeting Room A
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM 
We’ll showcase the amazing cardboard constructions invented by the little geniuses in our community for one last playdate.

Learn More About the Power of Play

-Julie J, Youth Services Assistant Department Head

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