Hospital toy libraries are in quarantine!

We would like to thank all the supporters of Play, during quarantine times, through this small tribute to the hospital toy librarians.

João Fernando Contreiras Siqueira
ABBri Media Communication
Maria Celia Malta Campos
ITLA America link person


Due to the huge transmissive potential of the COVID-19 virus, in February 2020, the Brazilian State sanctioned measures to deal with this public health emergency (Law nº 13.979), through which clarified and guaranteed the adoption of quarantines and isolation rules in administrations in the face of the impending crisis. Since then, this is our new reality.

The Brazilian Toy Library Association (ABBri) is concerned with the projects of playing in Brazilian hospitals, especially those that serve in a pediatric ward, where toy libraries are mandatory. Those toy libraries are now facing a new challenge: to keep play alive among children, during their hospitalization, even in isolation. For this reason, we talked to some toy librarians who work in the context of Health about how they have been dealing with the current situation.

According to the Brazilian Federal Law 11.104 / 05, it is strictly necessary that every hospital that has pediatric care also has a toy library, understood as a “place provided with toys and educational games, designed to encourage children and their companions to play”. But, as the toy librarians Jacqueline Dantas, from Hospital João XXIII, in Belo Horizonte, explained to us, as a collective space, the toy library needed to be closed. “It was hard for the children not to go there anymore, but we are always sensitizing, explaining the need, knowing that this is the moment,” she says.

 Thus, to get around the sad situation, the João XXIII Hospital toy librarian adopted a creative way: the so-called play kit, which brings hobbies, coloring pages, colored pencils, crayons, toys, storybooks and magazines for each child. “This kit, of course, does not come to replace the toy library – even because it is impossible, considering the magic that the space causes. It comes to supply this playful need of the child and to stimulate him to play during this period of hospitalization”, said Jacqueline.


Such kits are powerful tools that help the little ones to face a new reality.

At the Children’s State Hospital Darcy Vargas, in São Paulo, the toy librarians also bring the themes that they were already working in the toy library, into this new format. “We try to bring the theme of drawings and hobbies to the moment of the month, like Easter, Mother’s Day, June parties and so on”, as Cynthia Wolle, coordinator of the hospital’s toy libraries, told us. “The gratitude of the children, when they receive the kits, is very clear – they open a big smile and are very happy. We noticed that children who stay longer in hospital are already expecting to receive more activities again”. For Cynthia, it is precisely these playful activities that have avoided greater emotional complaints from children, keeping the little ones happier during hospitalization.

 At the Municipal Hospital Salgado Filho, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, another issue was found, this time, about the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). As we well know, the coronavirus spreads through the air and direct contact, requiring that all professionals in the health field take the necessary precautions while attending with their patients, such as wearing masks, glasses, and cloaks. But, as occupational therapist Patrícia Cimerman soon realized, the use of such equipment can cause fear and estrangement during therapeutic approaches with children.

Looking after the well-being of these patients, the solution was to try to further humanize care, using colorful accessories for caps and masks.


The fashion for colored masks came so strong that not even toys were left out: in the Therapeutic Dolls Project at this hospital, dolls have masks made by hospitalized children to learn on prevention through representativeness.

However, there is a lot of homesickness for spaces dedicated to free play. Toy librarian Daniela Linhares, from the University of Sao Paulo School, told us how the toy library in the pediatric ward was practically a social place, where many families maintained a friendship, but the new situation generated a distance between them, nowadays.   

However, unlike previous pandemics, this is a period that we can count on the internet and technology to help us. At the hospital where toy librarian Eliana Tarzia works, the Samaritano Hospital in São Paulo, she was able to send hobbies and mediate the activities of volunteer storytellers through Whatsapp, thereby reducing circulation and the possibility of contamination within the hospital. Thus, children and their companions receive videos, manuals and tips from websites with games on their cell phones, and the playmaker spends once a day in each room, carrying out the monitoring.  

Brasília’s Children’s Hospital José de Alencar (HCB) carries out a similar proposal: the toy librarian Suely Nascimento de Lemos organized a group on Facebook, “Play at HCB”, where she shares activities and games with family members.   

And, for music lovers, Hospital João XXIII toy library has its radio channel in Pediatrics, the “RADIOPED”; playing the most requested musics, every Friday.

The interviewed hospital toy librarians accordingly said that some of such changes came to stay and to contribute to the activities of their toy library.

Everyone’s intention is: “We will go through this period in the best possible way, playing and bringing joy”.