I was only a month old when I talked to you last. I was crying, sleeping, spitting up – you know, the whole newborn thing. Now I am a whopping 5 months old. I’m still spitting up, which is humiliating and drooling isn't so cool, but other than that I am holding my head up high and will be toddling all over before you know it (Get ready, Mom and Dad!).
What I wanted to talk to you about was what the library can do for babies.
That’s right, I said babies. I would bet when you think of the library, you don’t think of babies. But you should because the earlier you start teaching me literacy skills, the more likely I am to excel in school and beyond.
My library has a commitment to providing early literacy instruction for families with children from birth to 5 years old. That’s right, you heard me. Birth. The goal is to play an important role in helping children prepare for success in kindergarten and it starts right when we are born. My grandmother told me that she even read to my Dad before he was born! Not sure how that works, but maybe I will understand it when I am older.
Anyway, what I am talking about is called Ready Readers.
The library wants babies and their caregivers to come to the library. They provide a collection of materials including easy picture books, board books, readers and media as well as current parenting materials. Also, child friendly spaces,instruction for parents, grandparents, babies, toddlers and preschoolers, help for parents to find appropriate materials and early learning information and, most of all, library staff who love working with children.
I may only be 5 months old, but I already think books are very cool items to toss about. Yes, it’s true I can’t read yet, and I kind of act like I don’t understand words, but my Mom reads to me anyway and that is helping me learn those skills.
In the meantime, I have these cool board books that are shiny, smooth, and I can’t lie, chewable, but that’s fine because I am learning to handle a book, which is a big deal to me and my development. It’s OK that right now a book is a sort of toy.
So when my Mom or Dad or grandparent takes me to Baby Story Time, important things are happening even though I am still a…geez, I hate this word…infant.
At Baby Story Time I and my fellow babies and toddlers are learning
- to make a connection between pictures and real things and people
- to respond to movement and music
- to share books
- increase verbal skills
- the importance of shapes and letters
- how to interact with other children and adults, not to mention total attention on me by my Mom and Dad or Grandparent.
That's right. Story times are not just for my Mom and Dad and me. It's a a great chance for me to do something with my grandparents too!
And my Mom, Dad and Grandparents are learning activities and techniques we can do together at home that will give me the Ready Readers core skills I need to be a good reader:
(My Glammy told me to tell you not to look at her hair in this picture.)
- Telling stories together and encouraging pretend play teaches narrative skills.
- Helping me identify the first letter in my name and finding it in books, on signs, etc. teaches me letter knowledge.
- Helping me discover how to hold a book and turn the pages teaches me print awareness.
- Pointing out the names of things, like vegetables in the grocery store, teaches me vocabulary.
- Finding books I like teaches me print motivation.
- Singing songs, playing games and sharing rhymes helps me with phonological awareness.
- Also when you read to me I learn about language and I am comforted by your voice.
- When you play Peek-a-boo with me, I learn that you are always there, even when I can’t see you.
- Clapping, stomping, dancing and finger tapping to songs as they are sung teaches me sound awareness.
So when you take me to Baby Story Time at the library, sure, we walk around in a circle shaking cans with beans in them (or in my case, I am carried) and sing silly rhyming songs, but now you can see how important something like that is to someone like me. I am learning the skills I need to be a success in kindergarten and beyond.
And most of all we are all learning that my library cares about my development…even if I am just a (gulp) baby.
But, I won’t be a baby for long.
Soon I will be a toddler, then I will be in school and then off to live my own life, where I will be a lifelong learner - all because I was given this good start, and learned early that the library is important to my personal development at every age. And when I am a Dad and a Grandfather, I will take my children and grandchildren to story time at the library so they can have that same good start.
Now I need to take a nap. That all wore me out. I am still a baby after all.