Forget the New Year, September has always felt like more of a new beginning than January. The summer has ended, the children are back in school, the days are getting visibly shorter and daily life takes on a new rhythm. September at the library brings a new schedule of programs and special events, none more special than our morning story time. The hallowed tradition of a weekly story time has a long and proud past. Small children have been coming to libraries to listen to stories, sing songs and play learning games since the early nineteenth century.
What are story times for, anyway? Kids have fun at them and adults get to connect with each other, but do they have any purpose other than that? Actually, the answer is YES! At library story time, we are both teaching children some specific early literacy skills, and modeling for caregivers to do the same with their child. These are the early literacy or pre-reading skills that children need to acquire before they learn how to read.
By listening to stories, following the text on the page, repeating the rhymes and singing the songs, children are learning essential skills. They are learning narrative skills – the ability to describe things and events and tell stories, letter knowledge – knowing that letters are different from each other, print awareness – knowing how to handle a book and how we follow words from left to right when we read, vocabulary – knowing the names of things, print motivation – being interested in and enjoying reading, and phonological awareness – knowing that words are made up of individual sounds.
We know that children who start kindergarten ready to read have an advantage; they can focus on learning to read instead of having to first learn the pre-reading skills. You can help your child get ready to read by participating in the library’s story time programs. The library offers a Wednesday morning program for children ages 2 to 5 each week at 10:30, a Busy Babies program for infants up to 24 months every Thursday morning at 10:30, and a Saturday morning story time the first Saturday of every month at 10:30. No registration is necessary. Story time plays an important role in introducing children to the magic of books and preparing them to become readers. Bring your children to the library and enjoy it together!