Nearly forty years ago when I was an elementary education major, my language arts professor took my fellow classmates on a nature walk around the campus to point out all the hidden treasures we might find to enhance our lessons. Shiny berries and dew-dropped pine cones were only the start. There were treasures to be found inside too, from empty thread spools to magazine pictures. I quickly learned to look everywhere, and never miss an opportunity to utilize what I found to share with your students.
It has been many, many years since I took that nature walk, but as a Youth Service Librarian, I am still continually watchful for ideas to enhance the experience of the many families who visit the Patrick Heath Public Library. Recently I came across a most intriguing article by Motoko Rich in the New York Times on November 15. According to the author, a new study demonstrated that mobile technology, specifically texting, is an inexpensive and effective way to help low-income parents develop and enhance their child’s early literacy development. Brief messages such as “Sing the Alphabet Song with your child today,” proved easy to follow, yet tremendously valuable in enhancing early literacy.
Here was a treasure as wondrous as those shiny berries from so long ago. Why not have our library provide patrons with timely early literacy tips via texting? So many of our parents of young children utilize mobile devices—parents of all economic levels—and were therefore an audience waiting to be addressed. I shared my idea with our library director, Kelly Skovberg, who very much supported my proposal. Next came the nuts and bolts of adjusting our website to give patrons an option to sign up for a weekly early literacy text tip. My wonderful and tech-savvy assistant Sarah Doss dove right in and trained on how to implement the new feature, working through several online tutorials and making phone calls to get everything just right.
Patrons can now go to our website at www.boernelibrary.org and click on a Notify Me option that will allow them to subscribe to “Miss Constance’s Text Tips”—a simple process of entering an email and selecting the text option. Patrons will then get a weekly early literacy tip via text. I will be drawing upon all the invaluable tips found in my Every Child Read to Read @ Your Library resources that is a project of ALSC and PLA.
When I shared this news with my storytime mothers, they were very receptive to the idea. I eagerly await their feedback as our new venture takes flight. Texting is so often portrayed negatively in the press as something that alienates people. However, I believe that when used sensibly this technology can be yet another tool to enhance early literacy.
Our guest blogger today is Constance Keremes. Constance is a Youth Services Librarian at the Patrick Heath Public Library in Boerne, Texas.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
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