Friday, March 2, 2007

Why Storytime?

If you ask a Youth Services Librarian what is one of the most fun activities in our profession, many would say it would have to be storytime. Besides sharing the joy of reading books, storytimes are all about making young children successful readers. As the Commission on Children and Families say, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. “ You can never start too soon raising a reader. What you share with your baby today is the foundation upon which all other reading skills are built tomorrow.

At storytime, carefully selected age-appropriate books, songs, and finger rhymes feature the six elements of early literacy: print motivation, which helps children develop a love of books; phonological awareness, which introduces children to the various sounds in words through song and rhyme; vocabulary building; narrative skills, which involves following the story line and predicting “what next?” print awareness which involves children noticing print throughout their environment, learning how to handle a book, and understanding how a book works; and finally, letter knowledge, which includes alphabet books and writing their name on a name tag. Storytime provides opportunities for the parents and children to bond, to have ideas for conversations, to develop a reading habit, to visit library and to network with other families from the community.

Storytimes are intentionally divided into specific age groups. Infant Storytime, for children ages 0-12 months, is designed to provide the parents with an opportunity to talk and read with their baby. Toddler Storytime, for children ages 13 months-30 months, is designed to stimulate the minds of very busy little people with exceptionally short attention spans. Preschool Storytime is for children ages 30 months—age 5. Preschoolers have the ability to sit and listen, follow a complex story line, and love to participate in the story. The thing to remember is that no matter what the age group we are working with is that story time is fun and focuses on early literacy!

How, as a parent, can you support the early literacy skills being promoted at storytimes? Don’t limit it to just books! Sing songs and share nursery rhymes. Point out letters and print on street signs and at the grocery store. Read recipes and your mail out loud. Each of these activities helps build the skills your child needs in order to become a successful reader. Create an early literacy-filled environment at home: blocks and alphabet letters to play with, books to share at home and on-the-go, labels to read, and songs to sing. Make those potentially restless times waiting at the doctor’s office, for instance, a fun time of sharing books and rhymes you learned at storytime! But most importantly, let your child see you reading! Children are great imitators – they model the behaviors they see their most important teachers and role models (you - their parent or caregiver) engaging in.

No matter what, remember, reading is fun and storytime is just one, of many opportunities, you have as a parent to build reading skills.

Interested in taking your child to storytime? Check out our storytime schedule here. We would love to see you at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library!

Article appeared in the March 2007 issue of the City of Corvallis Newsletter.

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