Early Literacy Station blends entertainment, learning at library

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published April 2, 2015

 Danielle Stowe, right, a Berkley resident, looks for an educational game on the new Early Literacy Station for her daughter, Aliyah Pearson, 3, to play March 26 at the Berkley Public Library.

Danielle Stowe, right, a Berkley resident, looks for an educational game on the new Early Literacy Station for her daughter, Aliyah Pearson, 3, to play March 26 at the Berkley Public Library.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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BERKLEY — Thanks to the Friends of the Berkley Public Library, children who visit the library will have a new learning device to use.

An AWE Early Literacy Station was set up earlier this month. The station combines a touchscreen with a keyboard and mouse to give children a chance to explore several educational games in several curriculum areas ranging from reading and language arts to math and science.

“We are very grateful the Friends of the Berkley Public Library purchased this for us and donated it to the library,” Director Matt Church said. “They have their book sales and membership (dues) to raise money for things like this, and this is something we would not be able to buy on our own. The Friends are always supportive of the library, especially when it deals with kids, so this is a good match for the types of things they do.”

Church said the station is set up in the back of the youth room and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. While the library only has one station at the moment, he added that the library is open to purchasing another once it gauges the response to the current station.

Through the station, children can access games with “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Sesame Street” characters and themes, as well as math, counting and alphabet games. The station, Church said, is designed to allow the kids to both learn and have fun.

“A lot of kids know that touch-screen interface and are comfortable with it, so they can hop down on their own and get into a session and have a good time and learn something at the same time,” he said. “There is a sliding scale of interest levels, and we have two headphones so the kids can sit down with a brother, sister, friend or even a parent and interact together on those things. There are dozens of games, so the kids can come back different days and get a different experience.”

Friends of the Berkley Public Library President Nicole Smithson said the group always looks for ways to support young readers in the community. Church approached the Friends after having experience with the Early Literacy Station at another library.

Offering a new experience on a new medium will entice children to come to the library, Smithson said, and keeping up with what is new is important for libraries.

“We know that more and more literacy is moving toward an electronic medium,” she said. “I think the library is an important part of the community, especially with young readers, and to have the same things all the time, they would be less interested in coming to the library and using it. It is important to stay current with what is popular and what works, and this station is something that is a very valuable tool to assist early readers to increase their skills.”

With the station up and functioning, Church said children have been excited to try out the new technology.

More and more children are becoming accustomed to using tablets and smartphones, so Church said bringing in a touch-screen surface seemed like a natural fit with today’s youth.

“It is fun and it is flashy, and it draws them in while holding their interest,” he said. “Of course they still like to come in and grab a book, but this is something more interactive to do at the library and round out that experience for them at the library.

“It is important that it engages them, but we also want them to learn something and take something away other than just pure entertainment.”

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