Kansas Reads to Preschoolers Develops Reading Skills Early

At the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, we take the phrase “lifelong reader” seriously. And when it comes to spreading our love for books and other media, the library starts ‘em young.

“I started coming here when I was in the 7th grade,” said Janet Richardson, who regularly attends Preschool Storytime with her granddaughter. “She’s coming to the library now. It’s amazing.”

Janet’s granddaughter, Temple, who was 2 when they first started coming to storytime, is now 5. This summer, the two spent some quality time at the library developing Temple’s reading skills before she heads off to kindergarten.

Thanks to the early literacy skills Temple learned during library storytimes, Janet can get through their favorite Elephant Gerald and Piggie books without losing her granddaughter’s attention.

“She’s learned to follow a story,” she said. “She learns a lot from the library. She loves coming into the library.”

The library fosters a love of reading among its youngest customers with programs like I Love Letters, a special edition of storytime held as part of Kansas Reads to Preschoolers week. Circle Nov. 15 and 16 on your calendar and await our engaging recital of this year’s selected title, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Kansas author Bill Martin, Jr.

Programs like our educational and interactive storytimes are, for many, the gateway to becoming a reader for life.

Our Kansas Reads to Preschoolers events focus on creating an educational and entertaining experience for children 2-5 years old and their parents or childcare providers.

The events nurture children’s social skills and gives them a chance to be read to by someone different. It helps transform children from being passive about reading to enthusiastic about reading, said Melissa Patterson, Patterson Family Childcare and Preschool Program.

“When others show the joy of reading, it makes them want to read too,” Melissa said.

She said parents “more than approved” of her taking their kids to Kansas Reads to Preschoolers. Last year’s events attracted 157 kids, parents and childcare providers, including Lissa Staley, librarian, and her two children.

“My kid was happiest when she got to hold on to a cardboard cutout of a vegetable and wait her turn to hold it up in the air as part of the interactive story. She really, really liked being involved and getting to physically touch something and be a helper,” Lissa said.

And Lissa, like Janet, knows the library isn’t just a resource for teaching reading. It can be used in other ways that improve quality of life. For example, Janet used library resources to help with that all-important aspect of parenting: potty training.

“I recommend it to everyone. It’s good to bring the kids here. They have lots of programs that don’t cost anything and with the economy it’s nice to have that,” Janet said.

Attendance at I Love Letters and some of our other pre-literacy classes are free, but registration is required. For more information call 785-580-4565.

Learn more about the statewide initiative Kansas Reads to Preschoolers here.

A public relations professional, editor and writer, Lisa shares the library story in her blog posts, in the bimonthly Library News, and media interviews. A self-described social media and news nut, Lisa harnesses that passion to raise awareness and understanding of the library's vital role in this community.