Every week, we have story time at the library. We start by singing songs, sometimes using egg shakers or colourful scarves to act out the words we sing. Then we read two stories, and we do a simple craft.
It’s a simple formula, and it works well to entertain children and parents. But what’s not obvious about this routine is the importance of these seemingly simple tasks.
Our story times follow the guidelines from Every Child Ready to Read, a model that incorporates simple practices, based on research, to help parents and other caregivers develop early literacy skills in children from birth to age five.
Even though story time sounds simple, it’s actually playing a crucial role in early literacy development. For example, parents often think—well I talk to my children. They say things like, “please put your toys away.” But that kind of talk is not the rich talk where children get more vocabulary and hear complex sentence structure. This is a huge part of why story time is so important.
Singing slows down language so children can hear smaller sounds. It also helps them learn new vocabulary. Interactive reading is the single most important step in getting children ready to read. When reading to children, find ways for them to participate. Ask them questions about what they see. Ask them to identify colours or animals.
Get them to repeat key phrases. Ask them what they think might happen next. Play is another part of story time. We use egg shakers or colourful scarves to act out songs that we sing. Symbolic play (using one object to represent another), dramatic play (acting out and retelling stories), role playing help develop language. Crafts help develop fine motor skills, a crucial component of writing. And since you’re already at the library for story time, it’s easy to pick out new stories to take home to read there.
If you’d like to join us, story time is on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at our Centennial Branch. On alternate weeks Tuesday story time is run in partnership with the EarlyON Parent Literacy Council, so you can expect a big crowd! On Wednesday, join us at 2:30 p.m. at our Crystal Ridge Branch.
At our Stevensville Branch, we have an extra special evening story time. Stuffie Sleepover is on the third Wednesday of every month. Children are invited to come in their pjs, and bring their favourite stuffie along for story time and a special craft. When it’s time to go home, the stuffies stay at the library and get up to all kinds of crazy adventures! You can check out our Facebook page the next day for a video of the stuffies and their fun adventures.
Laura Trabucco is the Community Engagement Librarian at the Fort Erie Public Library. She loves Canadian Literature, crafts, and canoe trips. You can reach her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.