My mother took me every Saturday to the old branch library on Southland Drive.
Miss Lenora wasn’t just a librarian there, she was my librarian. She always said, “Hi!” She knew my name and my love for Frances the Badger books.
Sure, she talked to other kids, but I felt like she was there just for me.
Thirty years later, here I am: that librarian. I work in the same library system I visited and loved as a child except now I’m the Assistant Manager of Youth Services.
A lot has changed over that time. We have computers, e-books and movies.
Librarians have honed their skills to introduce literacy, and math and science concepts to young children preparing for school.
But I’m not only “Miss Abby.” I go by another name as well: “Mommy.” I have two daughters, ages 6 and 8.
One of the hardest things about being a librarian/mom has been listening to my own advice.
A lot of parents say, “You must do story time every night for your girls. They must love listening to you read all the time.”
I usually struggle for the right words to say. The honest answer is, “Yes… and no.”
I do read to my children, but after doing three story times earlier in the day, complete with gestures and voices and songs and crafts, my girls don’t always get their own story time.
The good news is that they don’t need anything so elaborate every evening. What children need at home, every day, is simply 15 minutes of reading.
And on those days when I come home and see the tattered copy of “Llama, Llama Red Pajama” waiting and can only cringe, I grab the nearest photo album and read it with my girls.
A photo album is just a wordless picture book, only better. There aren’t any words, but there are stories to be told.
My girls love to look at pictures. They not only recall what happened, but sometimes they make up an alternate ending (a type of fan-fiction, if you will).
There they are wearing their masks and fins – my youngest might imagine she met Nemo that day, and then they could swim off to meet Ariel and live like mermaids forever.
Children love to tell stories and that’s vital to their early literacy development. When they’re telling a story, however silly it might be, they’re building their vocabulary and learning how to sequence events.
These skills are building blocks to learning to read.
I love my job, and I love story time at the library, but parents don’t need to feel that only a full-blown story time will do. Reading is all around us.
When you’re at the grocery store, have your child identify letters on boxes and cans.
When you’re at the playground, have your child trace letters in the mulch or gather twigs and make the shapes.
While you’re having a snack, pick a food and have your child name another object that begins with that letter.
Any time you’re helping your child discover the world, you’re building a life-long learner.
Librarians are always collecting ideas, and we love to share them with parents eager to get their young children ready to read.
Pay us a visit and let’s talk. We also share a reading-readiness idea every day on our blog, “Now My Story’s Begun,” at lexpublibreadytoread.wordpress.com.