ISTANBUL - Anadolu Agency
As Turkey is celebrating the 50th National Library Week, one Istanbul project is pioneering a new attempt to bring families and children together to get the reading bug
The library is for children aged 0-9 and aims to promote reading by twinning it with interaction and socialization.
Amid concerns over the declining number of children’s libraries in Turkey, a pioneering new attempt is being made to encourage children and their families to take up reading.
Turkey’s first “Interactive Library for Kids,” opened recently in Istanbul, has become home to both local and foreign youngsters in an attempt to broaden the traditional library into a center for the whole family.
“These types of libraries are known as ‘family centers,’ ‘play centers’ or ‘community centers in different parts of the world,’” said the project’s general coordinator, Esra Akçay-Duff. “Ours is very much similar to those; it is a library as well as serving as a place of learning, discovery, playing games and socializing both for children and parents.”
The library, which is for children aged 0-9, aims to promote reading by twinning it with interaction and socialization; families come together with their children to read and play with them.
“Our aim is to ensure that children get socialized here in an enjoyable atmosphere and they are encouraged to read, accompanied by their peers and parents. When families come together and discuss the training of their children, the library will also serve as a place for sharing, cooperation, and helping each other,” she said. Experts to train families
Moreover, the library will also offer support to parents as child experts will regularly train families on issues such as child-rearing, domestic violence, child development, psychology and children’s rights.
The project is the first concrete step in a government-backed “Reading Children” project which aims to examine children’s libraries across Turkey and offer projects to develop them, besides pioneering the establishment of new branches nationwide.
Akçay-Duff said already-existing libraries for children in Turkey were too few in number and not designed properly in terms of capacity, physical structure and usage.
Excluding schools, Turkey only has 46 children’s libraries nationwide, according to 2012 data cited by Marmara University academic Güssün Güneş.
The number of regular children’s libraries in Turkey has been declining day-by-day due to a lack of promotion, said Işıl İlknur Sert, an academic from Istanbul University’s Department of Information and Document Management Studies. She said present libraries should be promoted to citizens by advertising and promoting.
A library in Özgürlük Park, in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district, opened on March 19 to offer “families a chance, leading them to see how to spend their leisure time actively with their children in daily life,” said Akçay-Duff. “Free for everyone, Istanbul’s Interactive Library for Kids’ may be the future for a new generation of young Turkish people, a place where actors, actresses, plays, imaginations, tales and books change every day.”