Nashville Public Library unveils remodeled Children’s Department

The Nashville-themed Reading Fort in the Nashville Public Library’s remodeled Children’s Department.        photo: Cass Teague

The Nashville-themed Reading Fort in the Nashville Public Library’s remodeled Children’s Department. photo: Cass Teague

The Nashville Public Library has just given the children of the middle Tennessee community an amazing gift this holiday season that will enrich their lives their entire lifetime. After considering what makes for enthralling and captivating learning environments, the staff of the library’s children’s department have created a safe, central and accessible, quality reading and education space for Nashville’s young people. Normally, you have to pay admission to a children’s museum or other attraction for this kind of play-and-learn experience.

The renovated area is a spectacular expression of the staff’s vision for providing a place for children to engage themselves and be engaged in the act and action of exploring educational activities.

Among the amazing mostly new areas in the library are the traditional books and computer stations, but the eye-popping Reading Fort will captivate you as you enter the open, inviting expansive space. The Nashville-themed Reading Fort has cool parts like the Gateway Bridge, resembling the Koran Veterans Bridge, which children can use to access The Reading Fort.

Archways throughout the department are tunnels in the middle of the bookshelves modeled after Music City landmarks. As they browse for books, children can also learn about notable destinations, like the Downtown Presbyterian Church, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Customs House.

The “Crawl Wall” is a climbing wall that allows children to move and play as they reach for letters on the wall. The Kids’ Stage is modeled after the historic Ryman Auditorium, where children can lead their own puppet shows and story times by the award-winning Wishing Chair Productions, including series of shows sessions with the Professor, Mary Mary and Library Pete.

A new “Tween” area , called The Alley was developed for children between eight and thirteen to build STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) skills as they use a 3D printer, sewing machines, engineering toys and art supplies.

Technology in the space includes iPads loaded with Learn With Homer, a learning game no other library has, that uses a whole language approach to help children learn to read with phonics-based modules, poetry and songs, e-books, brain games, encyclopedia articles and art elements. Parents can register and track their child’s progress, or children can play independently.

The newly renovated department re-opened to patrons on Wednesday, afternoon, December 2 with a slate of activities including remarks and ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Megan Barry, a parade, and a special Wishing Chair Productions puppet show.

In addition to the awesome architecture, books and technology, they also have amazing humans there, too, like childrens librarians Lindsey Patrick, Lindsey Jensen, Brian Hull and countless childrens librarians throughout the system, like Callie Lynn Starkey at Thompson Lane and others. They are to be applauded for their efforts to nurture the spark of interest and fan the flames of inquiry in our youth leading to insights about their lives and the lives of others and the world and universe in which we all live.

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