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Library Early Learning Centers Help Kids Succeed in School

Want to see a kid magnet? Just drop by one of several library branches anytime May 5 and witness the power that our new early learning centers have on little ones.

We saw it ourselves when Violet, a preschooler, and her mom dropped by the Republic Branch Library last week as Branch Manager Kim Flores and youth services assistant Adrienne Poulson set up the puppets and toys for the first time. Within a minute, there was Violet.

“Violet and her mom played with the puppets, enacting the story of the three little pigs. Then discovering the play vegetables, Violet began feeding the horse puppet nutritious food,” Kim said.

As far as Violet was concerned, she was just having fun. But she was really sharpening her learning skills.

The early learning centers include toys activities that parents can do with their children to help them build the skills they need to be ready to learn in school. The activities encourage imagination, conversation and exploration – all essential for children to be open to learning.

“Reading, talking and playing are fun, easy and valuable ways parents can help their young children learn,” said district youth services coordinator Nancee Dahms-Stinson.

“Playing is the foundation for learning for children, and when it’s paired with parental interaction, its value is immeasurable,” Nancee said.

These toys, games and activities that foster interactive play and learning are part of the library’s signature program, Racing to Read. The youth services staff is developing it through generous grants from the Rotary Club of Springfield, Rotary Club District 6080, the Library Foundation and the Missouri Parent Information Resource Center Southwest.

The grants provided early learning centers for the Republic, Brentwood and Midtown Carnegie branches, the Library Station and Library Center, and new toys and early learning activities for all 10 branches. The library will continue building on Racing to Read with parenting workshops and more activities in the future.

In the meantime, we invite you to stop by at any branch on May 5 for some fun and drawings for free books for families.

“Each time you visit the Library, you and your child will find something new and delightful to discover and explore,” Nancee added. “The learning part is up to you and your child; the library is your resource.”



Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at

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