The British institute in Florence has inaugurated in September of last year a new space for children to use and enjoy together with their parents. Librarian Chiara Barontini, who joined the British Institute in 2015, wanted to give life to the children’s library, improving their collection through donations and making the space a comfortable and cosy place for parents and children to come play and read their favorite books.
Although rather small, the room designed for children is filled with books, games and toys meant to tickle any child’s imagination. Since last September, the Institute began to organize monthly events for children. The events usually take place on the first Thursday of the month at 5 pm and children are greeted with homemade sweats while parents can relax and relish a piece of cake with a cup of tea. Each month a guest reader is invited and the readings are sometimes themed according to the period of the year. The reading is preceded by activities such as finger puppets, or decoration workshops, after which the children are taken upstairs where they can watch a projected cartoon.
“My goal is to attract more bilingual children providing them with the resources to keep reading and to interact in their native language, but also to attract children from Florentine families who are really keen to improve their English by exposing them to stories, cartoons and activities in the English language.” shares Chiara Barontini.
On June 9th, the British Institute hosted the last children’s event before the summer holidays and will begin organizing them again starting September. “I would love to welcome any mothers who would be interested to become more involved in our activities. For example, from September on I would like to introduce a new theme such as ‘Favorite Book’ where everyone can bring their favorite book to read and talk about it.” Chiara Barontini says while talking about her future plans for the space.
Aside from the organized events, the children’s library can also be used for mothers to organize playgroups, to meet and enjoy the company of other children and parents or just to come and spend some time with their little one. “I really want this beautiful space to be used. I want it to be filled with children who read books, borrow books and enjoy a place that is specially designed for them.” states Chiara Barontini.
The children’s library at the British Institute relies solely on donations. They are always on a quest for books, toys or soft, children’s furniture that families no longer use. It is an on-going project meant to gather families together and create a pleasant environment for children to be entertained in. To use the space, the British Institute requires a 5 euro donation for a day pass. You can also opt for the 15 euro Junior Membership for a year which you can also use to borrow books from the children’s collection or a yearly Family Membership of 100 euros which includes two family members.