Public Comment

Berkeley Library's Children: A Junior U.N.

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 08:59:00 PM

When attending Debbie Carton's Wednesday class, "Playreading for Adults" at the Berkeley Public Library, I take an elevator to the Fourth Floor, which happens to be the Children's Room. What a delightful spot that is, with infants and toddlers literally crawling all over the place. The main attraction of that room, adored by the children, is a gaudily decorated space ship, generally with a two or three year-old "astronaut" sitting in the cockpit, aiming the ship for a flight into outer space. 

To the left of the space ship is large area, covered with a blanket, where mothers sit on the floor, reading beautifully illustrated books to their little ones, who listen with rapt a attention. Beyond that, against the wall, is a row of computers -- not Apples or Dell, mind you, but reasonable facsimiles of the real McCoy. To work at these computers, children must be supervised by a parent or adult. It's obvious they could sit there for hours on end. 

In center of this long room are stack after stack of videos and DVD's, estimated by the librarian to be about 3700, with titles that should fascinate young readers. And here I must mention what lovely, adorable children I see, sitting at small tables, playing games, or riding a tricycle. They represent every race and nationality -- Latino, Asian, Hebrew, African American, etc., etc. For this reason I think of the Fourth Floor Children's Room as a Junior United Nations, and I thank our wonderful Berkeley Public Library for introducing the joy of reading to bay area youngsters.