|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
Getting "Ready to Read" @ your library
By Jerry Jones, Youth Services Librarian
February 9, 2005
Those visiting Natrona County Public Library on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings are sure to notice the pitter-patter of little feet. That’s because it’s Storytime: thirty minutes of stories and fingerplays and a room full of toddlers. You may know that Storytime has been offered by your library for many years. What you may not realize, however, is the potential impact Storytime can have on the lives of small children and the important role libraries play in helping preschoolers learn to read and write.
Last year, the Public Library Association (PLA), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released “Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library.” This study on emergent literacy confirmed that although parents and caregivers serve as children’s primary source of learning, libraries play an integral part in the education of preschoolers.
The study cites six early-literacy skills children should have before they begin kindergarten. They include vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, letter knowledge and phonological awareness. Books read during Storytime are selected and presented with these skills in mind. For instance, as Storytime presenters read, they follow the text of the book with their hand in the left-to-right reading pattern, which emphasizes print motivation. Rhyming books, such as “Five Little Monkeys Play Hide-and-Seek,” by Eileen Christelow, and songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” help reinforce phonological awareness. Talking about what is happening in the presented stories increases narrative skills. Storytime also provides opportunities to model reading aloud for the parents, grandparents and caregivers who bring their little ones to the library each week.
There are a multitude of books at the library that are geared specifically for developing emergent literacy skills. They include “concept” books, such as “Alphabet Under Construction,” by Denise Fleming, which introduce the ABC’s and 123’s. “Board” books, which are constructed out of cardboard, are sturdy enough for a hands-on reading, during which children learn that books are fun and meant to be shared. “Big” books that are 10 times the size of a normal book and “predicable” books, which encourage children to interact with stories by predicting what will happen, are other great tools for getting little ones ready to read. Through these books, preschoolers experience simple concepts such as book handling, flipping pages, pretend reading, saying words while looking at a page with print, reading silently and storytelling. These are important behaviors that help develop emergent literacy skills.
Libraries nationwide are going beyond books to providing play areas for young patrons. NCPL has added play tables, which provide toddlers with entertainment while parents browse for books, as well as puzzles and blocks that help children develop their fine motor skills and dress-up clothes that encourage creative play.
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