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Watch now: Book bags and bundles ready at the Decatur Public Library

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Library Assistant John Schirle gathers items to be placed in a child resource bag. The bags, which carry a theme, are filled with 20 books, a DVD, a music CD and a puzzle, game or toy. Teachers, parents and childcare providers can check out the bags for 28 days, just like books.

DECATUR — B is for Bags filled with Books.

The Decatur Public Library is ready to help teachers, parents, daycare facilities and other childcare providers with all the resources needed to help little ones learn, all in one big bag.

“The parent or childcare provider doesn’t have to come in and pick out 20 different items,” said John Schirle, librarian assistant. “They get them already preselected for them right here.”

Resource bags can be checked out from the library’s children’s department, just like books. Each bag has 20 books, a DVD, a CD of music, and a toy or a puzzle.

A resource book for the adult is also provided. “It’s a book that gives the childcare provider or the parent tips on how to use the books, how to do programming with their kids, ideas on how to read stories with their kids, or any number of things like that,” Schirle said.

The resource bags were available to patrons approximately 20 years ago, according to Schirle. “These incredibly sturdy canvas bags were purchased, that we have had for years and years,” he said. “They’re still holding up.”

The library received funding for the bags from the Library Child Care Connection Grant.

As the years have passed, the librarians have switched some of the books and swapped VHS tapes for DVDs. “We’ve upgraded over the years,” Schirle said.

The focus of the bags was to offer childcare providers an easy way to check out a series of educational materials in one quick stop. The material is suited for various ages, from infants to preschoolers. “It’s stuff that would be fun, educational, that would address some of the common things that childcare providers often want to teach kids,” Schirle said.

Susan Anderson, retired daycare provider, began checking out the bags shortly after the grant was approved nearly 20 years ago.

“My daycare kids called them the magic bags,” she said.

The large canvas bags fulfilled the educational needs of the infants and preschool children she cared for. “Kids love books,” Anderson said. “That’s one of our main goals, to teach the love of reading.”

Anderson, a licensed daycare provider since 1988, focused her lessons on the children’s interests, such as dinosaurs or transportation. “The children had a love of the garbage trucks that drove by once or twice a week,” she said. “That’s something that catches their interests immediately.”

The library children’s department has prepared 22 bags to check out.

Bag B tackles the subject of Birthdays and Shopping. “The bags generally have a theme,” Schirle said. “But it’s not a strict theme.”

Other categories include Bag D on dogs, cats and baths, Bag R on rain and weather, or Bag S about being scared.

The collection has board books for infants and concept books for preschoolers. Subjects could include the alphabet, shapes, numbers, or nature. “Then there’s a bunch of story books that are super funny,” Shirle said.

The bags are only available at the children’s desk on the second floor of the library.

For those who want books devoted to a specific topic, other than what is found in the pre-made resource bags, the librarians in the children’s department can help here as well with the Book Bundle.

If a group of 4-year-old children are studying dinosaurs, for example, “we will gather them 20 books on dinosaurs for 4-year-olds and have them ready for them to check out,” Schirle said. “They don’t check out just one bag, they have to check out the individual books. But we’ll have them ready for them.”

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


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