Encouraging play through early learning spaces

For Immediate Release
Thu, 12/11/2014


Rob Christopher

Marketing Coordinator

ALA Publishing

American Library Association



CHICAGO — Don’t simply accommodate families with young children—draw them in and make your library a destination! Written by an early childhood specialist, a designer and an outreach librarian, “The Power of Play: Designing Early Learning Spaces,” published by ALA Editions, is a hands-on guide that takes you step by step through the process of designing an early learning space that fits your space limitations and budget. With a strong focus on making play spaces welcoming for parents, caregivers and children while reducing stress for library staff, authors Dorothy Stoltz, Marisa Conner and James Bradberry:

  • use current research to explain the importance of play in regard to early literacy and learning;
  • show how underutilized spaces of any size can be transformed into play spaces, with planning secrets for small, mid-size, and large play environments;
  • offer tips for reinventing reading nooks as “playscapes” that encourage fun and play; 
  • present models of successful early learning spaces from across the country, with illustrations and floor plans;
  • suggest ways to motivate adults to help young children develop a sense of discovery, energizing adults and children alike to pursue the lifelong enjoyment of learning;
  • include sample guidelines, surveys and plans to help you adapt your play spaces to the needs of your community;
  • present a vendor list, tips for cleaning toys, worksheets and other tools for pulling it all together, from engaging library staff and community partners to hiring architects and contractors.

Stoltz coordinates programming and outreach services at Carroll County (Maryland) Public Library. She spearheaded a successful early literacy training study for Carroll using home child-care providers and three- and four-year-olds. This research-tested study showed statistically significant increases in early literacy skills of children. She is coauthor of “Every Child Ready for School: Helping Adults Inspire Young Children to Learn” and “Tender Topics: Picture Books about Life’s Challenges.”

Conner, MEd, coordinates the programming and services for children and youth at Baltimore County (Maryland) Public Library. She created Early Learning Activity Centers in all 19 branches at BCPL and designed the learning components for both Storyvilles, BCPL’s award-winning early childhood learning environments. She has presented workshops and trainings on creating play spaces in libraries at numerous conferences.

Bradberry, AIA, LEED, is an award winning architect/author and principal of James Bradberry Architects. He has taught architecture at Yale, Penn and the Technical University of Nova Scotia, and his work has been published in the U.S. and abroad. His firm has designed several noted interactive learning environments for children, including two Storyville projects for the Baltimore County Public Library, and the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University.

ALA Store purchases fund advocacy, awareness and accreditation programs for library professionals worldwide. ALA Editions publishes resources used worldwide by tens of thousands of library and information professionals to improve programs, build on best practices, develop leadership, and for personal professional development. ALA authors and developers are leaders in their fields, and their content is published in a growing range of print and electronic formats. Contact us at (800) 545-2433 ext. 5052 or editionsmarketing@ala.org.