By Joanna Lee

This children’s library is far, far more than books. On the eve of Mother’s Day recently, a group of children worked eagerly on “sweet flower bouquets” and salads at their playgroup session while toddlers threw themselves into toy construction and kitchen sets. At another corner, a small crowd of children were mesmerised at the animated storytelling session. Meanwhile, it’s a different world next door where children browsed bookshelves and pored over books in blissful silence.

Book A Change

Welcome to the Children’s Library run by City Discipleship Presbyterian Church (CDPC) Puchong (in Selangor).

Listed as one of the 10 best libraries in the Klang Valley ever since its inception in 2011, the Children’s Library boasts of 5,000 books, mostly award winning ones, thoughtfully sourced from around the world.

With a heart to “love the city by loving its families”, CDPC Puchong founding pastor Rev. Wong Fong Yang was praying over how they could serve the local community when he chanced upon a book titled 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. He was then inspired to start the children’s library with the help of the pioneer church members.

“Study after study has shown that children who read for pleasure will succeed in life,” said Rev. Wong, whose family members are avid readers.

Over the past seven years, the library has seen many children picking up the reading habit as the library membership swelled to a few hundred families. (It helps that annual membership fee starts from as low as RM10.)

Book A Change

Storytelling has become an integral feature of the library, with weekly Saturday sessions at 11.30am. “Reading stories help fire up children’s imaginations and they can learn through hearing the stories read aloud to them,” Rev. Wong said.

Many members from the church take turn to serve in the library, which opens every Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

From just books for the children, the library has spun off a playgroup for parents with young children to gather as a support group. In turn, the playgroup has evolved to another programme that enhances children’s learning experiences. This highly interactive and engaging project is led by computer scientist Dr Ng Kher Hui, a church member whose expertise is designing learning experiences.

Thus far, the playgroup has organised workshops such as DIY Cardboard Car Workshop, Mini Olympics and the Little Boss Charity Carnival where children learned entrepreneurial skills to raise funds. They’ve also started an Art Science Play series where kids and parents learn problem-solving skills through hands-on tasks. For example, one session on the principles of floatation and construction had participants building a boat to save a gingerbread man.

“There’s wholesome, great learning and play experience for families, including songs with music movements, story time, free play and craft stations that provide sensory play,” Dr Ng said.

She added it’s about providing opportunities for kids to develop physically, emotionally and socially in a wholesome, safe place for the entire family.

Book A Change

With so much good going on in the library, you can expect lives to have been impacted. Rev. Wong shared just one story. Jessica is a 4-year-old child of migrant worker parents, who learned how to read in and speak English at the library. She can read very well now and play with the other kids.

Dr Ng added, “It’s very rewarding to see the kids grow. Some came in timid and shy but after a few sessions, they became more confident. Some have become more creative. That’s important because for our nation to develop, our kids must be able to come up with ideas and take initiatives.”

Check out the Children’s Library’s upcoming activities on its Facebook page.

Asian Beacon: Jul – Sep 2018 (Vol 50 #3, p30)

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