A common assumption I’ve come across during my time in libraries is that picture books are for children to read. As a matter of fact, I think I probably made this same assumption before I started planning story times and the like. But here’s the thing: children’s picture books are really designed to be read aloud to children by adults. I know, I just blew your mind. Obviously there are some exceptions, like certain Dr. Seuss titles. (“Hop on Pop“, anyone?) But many picture books are actually too advanced for your average beginning reader to effectively tackle on his or her own.
If starting with traditional picture books is not ideal, then what in the world is? The answer varies. At DBRL, we call this collection “Beginning to Read.” These are also children’s books, and they also have a lot of pictures. They are different from most picture books in that their sentences are short, and the words are short, simple and do as much to help the reader figure them out contextually as possible. The words are big and few so they are not nearly as intimidating. You also won’t find any artsy typographies that, while charming in children’s books that are being read to them, can be daunting to new readers. Continue reading
The bedtime story already has been deeply planted in the early literacy landscape, the collective nostalgia and routines for tricking little ones into falling asleep. We have heard the benefits of reading to your baby bumpkins and terrible twosers daily touted near and far, but does the time of day a child is read to actually make any difference?
The answer is, um…well, probably. Maybe. Depends?
While there is some research on that question, obviously everyone is different. Personally, I am a big fan of the bedtime story, so what follows will be my case for the institution.
For one thing, your children are put to bed every day, so there’s a built-in “reminder” that allows reading to easily become part of a routine that’s already necessary. Plus, “bedtime story” rolls off the tongue a lot easier than, say, “after-school snack story.” If you have a snugglebunny or two who land closer to the reluctant side of the sleeper spectrum, sometimes a calming routine can help. According to chair of the Early Childhood Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Peter Gorski, M.D., the most cognitive benefits from reading are reaped when the child’s experience with books is enjoyable and associated with love, safety and comfort. Well, what is more loving and comfy than being tucked in, surrounded by a beloved stuffed animal or two, while mom and/or dad tell you a story? Letting your nugget choose the story they want to hear can be both a bedtime selling point and encourages a positive association with being read to. Continue reading
We Children’s Librarians have purchased lots of cool and educational toys to help build early literacy skills at the library. You may have seen some of these at our Discovery Time, such as the cloth box with colored scarves to pull out, the fancy colored nesting blocks or the counting food cans. However, you can encourage early literacy skills for little or even no money whatsoever – just be creative with items around your house! Below are a few ideas for you and your family to enjoy.
Stacking Bowls. Don’t have the money to buy a fancy nesting toy set? Take a set of different-sized plastic or Tupperware bowls from your home and let your child play with them. These bowls can help teach concepts of size (little fits into medium fits into big). You can even stack the bowls upside down and build a snowman (insert your own “Frozen” joke).
Magnet Letters. I‘ve been seeing lots of toys with light-up letters that feature sounds and word samples. Pretty nifty. But for my money, nothing beats a good old set of magnetic alphabet letters. Spell out words and sentences right on the fridge. Put some tape up, and make your own preschool Boggle board. My mom was fond of putting a new word up every day – great for vocabulary building and letter recognition!
While we don’t recommend screen time for babies or real little ones, preschoolers ages 2 and older may benefit from playing educational apps with a parent. Each DBRL branch now has a crayon kiosk with at least one iPad attached to it (and four iPads attached at the Columbia branch). These iPads each have the same app – an educational preschool app that will be switched out periodically. Each app is chosen for early literacy learning.
The current app is “Moo, Baa, La La La!” by Sandra Boynton. This digital story is narrated, and children can touch the animals to see them move and make sounds. My favorite is the dancing pigs, but many in the department prefer the snorting rhinoceros! Since these apps are for preschoolers, we encourage parents to play the apps with the children.
We also occasionally run a feature on DBRL Kids called “Get Appy.” Some of these apps are appropriate for older kids, too.
Feel free to check out the crayon kiosk with your child and explore the digital world in a safe way!
Have you attended a story time at Columbia Public Library? If not, prepare yourself for a fun time – songs, rhymes, stories, big books, flannel boards, puppets and more are featured as the library staff educates and entertains in each thirty-minute program. Below is valuable story time info for both our regulars and new story time visitors. We have story times for different age groups, and we try to keep our story times on a fairly regular schedule (only occasionally interrupting for a special program such as a visiting performer or annual Summer Reading-themed programs or wrap-up). Continue reading