November 23, 2021

FMU’s Richardson Center for the Child to add an Early Childhood Library

FMU’s Richardson Center for the Child to add an Early Childhood Library

A special library project at Francis Marion University will benefit students in early childhood education and young children alike.

An Early Childhood Library will open at the Gail & Terry Richardson Center for the Child on FMU’s campus in February. Children enrolled at the center and their families can borrow books from a selection of carefully curated works that complement early learning development.

 The library will also provide a hands-on experience to early childhood education students at Francis Marion. 

The driving forces behind the new library are Dr. Jeanne Gunther, chair of Francis Marion’s Early Childhood Education program, and Dr. Callum Johnston, professor of early childhood education. 

“Having most classes at the Richardson Center allows the Early Childhood teaching candidates to immerse themselves in a professional clinical situation every day,” said Gunther.

Award-winning books were chosen for the library by the teaching candidates in FMU’s early childhood program. Selections were made based on a book’s ability to represent diversity, display developmental appropriateness and address early learning, and meet South Carolina education standards.

Teaching candidates at Francis Marion will use the books for assignments as well as to build their knowledge of current children’s literature.  

The Richardson Center for the Child plays a critical role in several university research programs. In addition to early childhood education, FMU students in nursing, psychology and speech-language pathology use the center as a training and lab site.  

Current students benefit from a unique environment and learn from the examples set by FMU alumni. 

“Some of the teachers at the Richardson Center are graduates of the Early Childhood program at FMU, and it is wonderful to see them on campus as professionals in our field,” said Gunther,  “There’s no greater accomplishment for me than to see former candidates as teachers who positively impact the lives of children.”  

Melissa Ward, director of the Richardson Center for the Child, is an alumni of FMU’s Early Childhood Education program. Ward said the center provides children with a premier educational and developmental experience rooted in active, play-based curriculum serving infants to those in 4K.

The Early Childhood Library is made possible by private donations, grants and funding support from FMU President Fred Carter.  

Ward said the library will fit perfectly into the center’s teaching philosophy and create a positive impact. 

“With the new library project, we will be able to provide more opportunities for children to have books in their hands,” Ward said. “Teachers can also check out books for their classrooms. In the future, we would also like to use the new library to have storytime with President Carter and other storytime events with the children.”

For those looking to contribute to the mission of Richardson Center for the Child and support the development of the Early Childhood library, the FMU teaching candidates have created an Amazon Wish List of children’s books to add to the library.

To donate to the Early Childhood Library, visit

There is an option at checkout to have the book delivered directly to Richardson Center for the Child. 

To learn more about the Richardson Center for the Child, visit