I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published May 22nd 2012
In times gone by, reading and writing were skills which only the most privileged members of society could acquire: the wealthy, the aristocratic and the powerful. However, these days, although education is freely available for all, it's often taken for granted, and many children don't appreciate the wonderful gifts which arise from embracing its many possibilities. The Place, at the State Library of Western Australia in Perth's cultural precinct, aims to combat this apathy by providing quality literacy programs for preschoolers, as well as a space which specifically nurtures their propensity for creative exploration. In this way, The Place (and the literacy program Better Beginnings, which is based here) aims to shape and influence children's attitudes towards learning by providing an enchanting early glimpse into the wonderful world of books.
Situated on the Mezzanine level of the State Library, the entrance to The Place is defined by a blue, life-size cow sculpture, beautifully embellished with imaginative illustrations executed by some of Australia's leading children's book illustrators: a fascinating spectacle for little people who have possibly never seen a real cow in their lives, and who are only a fraction of the size.
Entering the child-proof gate, the floor-plan is loosely divided into several different areas, providing a variety of literature-orientated and creative activities to keep littlies entertained for hours in an imaginative, creative and constructive way. An assortment of soft toys and indoor play equipment entices wary children to enter further, while sofas, bean-bags and comfortable cushions create a homely and inviting ambiance, encouraging visitors to linger longer and share the wide range of good quality children's books which line the many bookshelfs.
As befitting a centre dedicated to children's literature, The Place boasts well-stocked shelves with a wide range of children's books suitable for all age groups, ranging from classics such as Tom Sawyer, Wind in the Willows and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, to modern masterpieces, including the gorgeous picture books of Australian artists / writers, Shaun Tan, Boori Monty Prior, Jackie French and Alison Lester. There are also books for older children and a comprehensive assortment of books for grown-ups on child development, psychology and education. On one side of the centre, several children's computers are set up for use, all offering age-appropriate games and fun educational activities, while the far end has been transformed into a small gallery exhibiting several beautiful works by prominent children's book illustrators.
In addition to all the fun stuff available to the casual guest, The Place also hosts a couple of organised gatherings each week. For babies (and their parents), a Baby Rhyme Time takes place every Tuesday at 10.30am. For slightly older children, 'Stories round the Book Totem' is a popular program which is held every Wednesday morning at 11am.
In conclusion, The Place is a great spot for both young children and their care-givers. Its happy vibe is contagious, and due to its noble aim of fostering a life-long love of learning in our youngest citizens, it's an invaluable community resource. Do yourself a favour and check it out!