BREAKING EARLY LITERACY NEWS: Siblings are now welcome to join parents and their younger sibs. Activities for olders brothers and sisters will allow baby's caregiver to focus on early literacy.
We know there are great benefits in reading aloud to children. Scientifically speaking, these benefits are especially great in children under 18 months of age. That’s why the Columbus Public Library and the Columbus Community Hospital have teamed up to provide families with very young children the opportunity and resources to teach early literacy skills to babies.
Developing pre-literacy skills—the skills children need to master before learning to read—is an important part of kindergarten readiness and helping kids stay on track in school. The Early Literacy Initiative, funded by a grant from the Columbus Area Endowment, focuses on giving parents the resources they need to support their babies’ positive development straight from the get-go. “We are really hoping to target those areas where we see people struggling,” said hospital Executive Foundation Director Emily Dilley, “and we’re very excited about this new program.”
The first eighteen months of a child’s life are a critical time period for developing early literacy skills. Parents play a very important role in helping develop those skills that lead to a child’s success in learning to read and write. Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition. Among other things, reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children, a potent predictor of reading success. Children that have multiple opportunities for reading aloud with caregivers are more likely to become strong readers, and developing reading skills at an early age is critical.
“We know that if students are not reading at grade level by third grade it is very difficult to ever get them caught up with their peers. We really appreciate the way the library is working to address this” says Dr. Bryan Davis, Superintendent of Columbus Public Schools.
The library and hospital are collaborating to reach parents on many fronts. The hospital will distribute library welcome bags, including a board book, information about library storytimes and a pamphlet about early literacy activities, to families with new babies.
The library is working on other ways to reach parents and infants. They are purchasing a large number of new board books for the collection and adding a brand new baby storytime program to the lineup. “We are really enthusiastic about the opportunity to create a new program that addresses the needs of infants and their caregivers,” says Library Youth Services Director Kelsey Johnson-Kaiser.
Baby storytime differs from storytimes aimed at older kids because it places more focus on language development for babies, and information for parents. Songs and rhymes are a large part of storytime, because “they break words down into more audible sounds. The tune and rhythm help very young children hear the individual sounds that make up words, which helps language development” says Johnson-Kaiser.
Of course, baby storytime will also feature read-aloud stories, but the goal is to keep things as interactive as possible. Caregivers will each receive a copy of the read-aloud book so they can follow along with their baby, and are encouraged to check out additional board books to read at home. Additionally, early literacy tips and at-home activities will be discussed throughout each session. Says Johnson-Kaiser: “We want this to be a valuable experience not only because it gives parents a chance to get out of the house. We want caregivers to feel empowered in supporting their child’s development, and know how the library can help.”
Baby storytime will be held at the Columbus Public Library on Thursdays from 10-10:30 AM beginning September 19.