Reading is the basis for everything. Whether it’s success in school or in day-to-day stuff like grocery shopping or ordering at a restaurant.
School isn’t that far off for ShaMecha Simms’ 4-year-old boy, Tatum. They frequently use the library to work on his reading skills, and she credits the library with many of Tatum’s reading developments.
“He already sees value in coming here, being here and wanting to check out books,” she said. “He gets excited about books, even though he doesn’t understand words – just starting on letters.”
She said Tatum learned to identify shapes because of the hearts, circles, squares and triangles that adorn the sides of the shelves in the Kids Library. Tatum would ask, “what’s this?” She hadn’t considered them before, but now she knows these shapes are a part of the library’s effort to raise the next generation of readers.
Learning that letters and symbols have meaning is one of the earliest steps in developing literacy skills, said Luanne Webb, infant and preschool librarian.
ShaMecha and her son use board books to help him with number and letter identification. She recalls thinking her son would never transition from simple board books to paper books “because I thought he’d tear them apart.“
“He is treating the books more gingerly now,” she added. “He’s now getting older so we’re starting to pick up lengthier books, more moral-based books.“
What’s next for Tatum, according to mom? Learning to write letters, his name and other words. Letter recognition is another step in developing literacy skills, as is understanding narrative. Librarians, like Luanne, get excited when they see parents or caregivers engaging children in narrative skills. For example, when reading together, Tatum will point to pictures, and he and his mother will talk about what might be happening on the next page before they turn it. She says Tatum is turning out to be a good storyteller and attributes that intuitive talent to Tatum’s library experiences.
The library is here for parents and caregivers as a resource during this impressionable stage in life. Important decisions the library can help with include deciding on a preschool. As a mother of a 4-year-old, ShaMecha knows the frustration of shopping around for a preschool. So, she was relieved when she heard preschool directors and staff would be coming to the library for the Parents as Teachers Preschool Fair Feb. 6 from 6 to 7:30pm. The fair informs parents about the preschool selection process, helping them decide on a perfect fit for their child.
Librarians will also be educating about early literacy skills that go beyond those mentioned in this article. “Some parents may not know what to do, but for others we confirm what they’re already doing is good,” Luanne said.
“We model for parents what they can do with their child at home or at the library – not just reading a book but also playing with blocks and developing narratives based on what they are building. We have puppets at the library, which helps kids tell stories and become better storytellers,” she said.
For new parents, ask about joining “Read with Me” and get a free t-shirt for baby. We also have a number of preschool programs listed in connectnow magazine. Playing to Read, Preschool Storytime, Musical Storytime for Everybody, Sing, Move and Learn and Pajama Storytime are just some of the awesome programs the kids librarians offer.