Thursday, August 28, 2014

Step Into Reading Literacy Program

Read Kate Tigue's column in the August 28, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

The weather is getting cooler and less humid. The back-to-school sales are on. The summer reading program is winding down. It’s almost fall! Hurray! Autumn is New England’s season to shine with breathtaking foliage, crisp high weather, and amazing food. Librarians are usually happy to see September every year as summer is often the busiest season on the library calendar, especially in for the Children’s Department. Most libraries in Massachusetts provide an intensive summer reading program for school aged children during the summer months. This year, over 500 children participated in the Morrill Memorial Library’s Fizz Boom Read! Summer Reading Program by reading nearly 5,000 books! The library hosted a total of 36 programs that brought in a combined total of 800 people in a 10 week period. The Children’s Room staff has answered nearly 1,100 questions in July and August alone. That means we’ve had the best summer possible: every day was packed with helping patrons, running programs, marshalling volunteers, and generally keeping everyone busy.
And that’s how those of us in Youth Services like it! But when the summer comes to close, we librarians are ready to switch gears. While our summer program mainly focuses on families with school-aged children, fall is the perfect time to help parents and caregivers build a foundation for literacy in young children. From September 17 through November 22, the library will run the Step Into Reading Program for children from birth to 5 years old and their families. When children and the caregivers register, they will receive a “My First Reading Log” and a special fall-themed stamp to keep track of how many books they read together. Once children have read 5 books, they may come into the library to pin up a special leaf in the Children’s Room with their child’s name on it. We will also raffle off a picture book every week of the program!

The more we learn about childhood brain development, the more it makes sense to emphasize early literacy for young children. Early literacy skills take root during infancy. Studies indicate there are three main factors in predicting success in reading and overall academic achievement: First, exposure to language. Children who hear more words per day before age 5 excel academically and have a larger vocabulary to support them once they start learning to read. Children who are read to ever day are exposed to even more words than those who are not. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that all parents read to their babies for 20 minutes a day. Secondly, children need access to reading materials. Let’s face it: books are expensive! Between the price and how quickly kids change their interests, libraries are a parent’s best (and cheapest!) way to surround their kids with books. Finally, children need reading role models. Reading to your children is a great way to build their literacy skills but letting them catch you reading is the best way to encourage them to pick up a book on their own.

So we know that reading to kids is important, but a library can be overwhelming! Where do we start? Most parents, myself included, love board books for kids under 3. There sturdy, cardboard pages can take the heavy-duty wear and tear kids dish out on a daily basis. Look for ones that aren’t simply miniaturized versions of long picture book stories. Instead, look for colorful pictures, large print, and basic concepts like counting or animal noises as subject matter. The Children’s Room has a growing collection of these awesome books. Here are some titles to check out as you Step Into Reading this fall:

Huggy Kissy by Leslie Patricelli
Ten Tiny Toes by Caroline Jayne Church
Do Crocs Kiss by Salina Yoon
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
What’s Up Duck by Tad Hills
Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia
Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz

If you have a child under 5 and are interested in registering for our Step Into Reading Program, please call the library at 781-769-0200 x225 or email us at It’s going to be a great fall here at the library!