Library offers fun, educational opportunities for children

First Posted: 8/29/2013

LUMBERTON — Parents who are looking to spark the imagination of their children need to look no farther than Smart Start Resource Lending Library in Lumberton.

Just ask Sarah Griffin-Greene, who brings her three sons to the library twice a month.

“There’s so much for them,” Griffin-Greene said. “You have toys, books, CDs. It’s just like going to the toy store and it’s all free. You can find something for every level of your growing child and all of their interests.”

The library offers all of its programs for free through the North Carolina Partnership for Children, which provides taxpayer dollars.

“It is a good way to come and try out new learning resources without having to buy them,” Griffin-Greene said.

The Smart Start Resource Lending Library was created in 2010 to provide Robeson County parents, caregivers, child-care providers and early education students access to educational resources that enhance the pre-literacy skills of children under the age of 5.

Located inside of the Robeson County Partnership for Children’s office at 210 E. Second St. in Lumberton, it houses more than 4,200 books, flannel boards, theme kits, CDs, puppets and musical instruments.

“All of the Smart Start Resource Lending Library educational resources help enhance the five practices of pre-literacy: reading, writing, singing, talking and playing, which helps prepare young children to read,” said Penni Fields, Smart Start Resource Lending librarian. “Our overall goal is to help enhance a child’s learning experience.”

Jessica Lowery, executive director of the Robeson County Partnership for Children, is another mother who brings her child to the library often.

“I have a 3-year-old daughter and the library helps her understand life changes such as potty training and living with a single parent,” Lowery said. “I have also used parent resources to help me with areas such as developmental stages of life for young children and school readiness. The library resources are designed by early childhood experts to help parents better understand their child and also helps parents better communicate with their child.”

The library is not just for young children and their parents; early child-care providers can also use its resources. The library offers teacher resources such as die cuts, a tool used to make arts and crafts, lamination, bulletin board paper and more. It also offers religious materials for Vacation Bible School and Sunday School teachers.

“The Smart Start Resource Lending Library provides outreach services to 25 licensed child-care facilities in Robeson County,” said Alexis Locklear, Smart Start Resource Lending Library Outreach Librarian. “I deliver materials once a month to the participating child-care facilities and the service allows teachers access to learning materials that will enhance the learning opportunity for children in their care.”

The library is now participating in the Read More Books early literacy reading initiative sponsored by Chick-fil-A. The program provides coupons to the popular fast-food restaurant to children who reach a goal in reading a certain number of books in a specified time frame.

The library is a part of Smart Start, which was established in 1993 to prepare at-risk children to enter school

It is open Mondays through Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. It holds story time on Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

To learn more about the library or to donate gently-used books or CDs, contact Fields or Locklear at 910-738-6767, Ext. 295. To volunteer at the library, call Allison Strickland at 910-738-6767, Ext. 237, or

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