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Hi Susanne,
Toy libraries have tremendous potential for supporting children’s development. Not only do children delight in and learn through play, but safe attractive toys could also serve as a strong draw for families to participate in information sessions. When talking to families and carpenters/tailors about toy design, I would keep in mind what is developmentally appropriate for different stages. For instance, infants might benefit most from rattles or soft balls. Toddlers would benefit from nesting toys, simple puzzles, and soft blocks. At these stages, children explore through their senses (including with their mouths), so you are wise to focus on safety and ease of cleaning. As children grow older, imaginative play takes on increasing importance. Masks, puppets, toy animals, and play cooking utensils will enable children to act out scenes from everyday life and their imaginations. Older children also engage in more sophisticated block play. Children of all ages will enjoy musical instruments appropriate for their level of dexterity.
The decision of whether the library should be mobile or not would likely depend on the area it serves. I would think a mobile library would be more appropriate for a densely populated area. Given the difficulty of reaching more remote areas, they might be better served by creating their own toys from locally available materials and training community members.
CONAFE, the principal government agency in Mexico providing education to remote rural areas, has been implementing an early childhood program utilizing community volunteers for quite some time. Here’s a link that might prove instructive: http://www.conafe.gob.mx/educacionincial/Paginas/default.aspx.
Best of luck with this idea. I look forward to seeing how it develops!
Amy