Early Literacy

Family Crafting and Writing for Early Literacy

When we present ECRR-based storytimes, we demonstrate five everyday practices that are important for children’s cognitive, physical, and social development.  These practices- Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play- promote brain, gross and fine motor growth, the foundation upon which children’s future learning depends.  Research such as Hart and Risley’s groundbreaking 1995 publication, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, demonstrates the vital importance of this learning foundation, and the consequences for their educational success if children do not begin life in the literacy-rich environment that these practices promote.  Given their significance, how do we not only tell our patrons about these practices, but also offer them resources to make the practices daily occurrences?

I look for meaningful books to recommend to parents and caregivers that incorporate the practices into family activities.  Recently published titles, written by experienced educators and designers, offer a wide variety of collaborative activities and ideas to keep everyone learning and having fun throughout the childhood years.  Suggesting titles such as my favorites below gives our patrons ideas to implement at home, and deepens their understanding of our early literacy messages.

In addition to being rich resources for patrons, these books are wonderful titles for us to consult as we create literacy-based, interactive family events and programs for our libraries.  Further, they provide early literacy talking points with examples of how to bring talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing into our patrons’ daily lives with children.

To get the most from these books, be sure to visit the author’s websites and blogs, follow them on Pinterest, YouTube or Facebook, subscribe to their blog posts, and continue to benefit your library customers through their inspiration!

Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling by Emily K. Neuburger North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2012
Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling by Emily K. Neuburger North Adams, MA: Storey Pub., 2012

Neuburger is a teacher, freelance children’s craft designer and blogger at red bird crafts [art + story] and the Family Fun magazine blog, Everyday Fun.  In her book, she describes a wide variety of activities to develop children’s storytelling skills that everyone can enjoy throughout the grade school years. Included with her descriptions and uses for each project are engaging color photographs of the final products, and multiple suggestions for how to involve children individually and in groups.  I want to try her cut and tell storytelling and story stone ideas with our library families and caregivers!

Side by Side: 20 Collaborative Projects for Crafting with Your Kids  by Tsia Carson with photographs by Meredith Heuer Boston, MA: Roost, 2012
Side by Side: 20 Collaborative Projects for Crafting with Your Kids by Tsia Carson with photographs by Meredith Heuer. Boston, MA: Roost, 2012

Tsia Carson teaches design at Yale University and Rhode Island School of Design, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of SuperNaturale, an alternative crafts website.  Her book offers highly imaginative projects such as a Giant Newspaper Snowflake, Child Drawing Embroidery, and a Living Willow Teepee that would be a year-round setting for early literacy activities planted right outside your Children’s Department.  She provides detailed materials lists and directions, and Heuer’s photographs capture the projects beautifully.

The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy.  Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books, 2010
The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories by Jennifer Hallissy. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books, 2010

Hallissy is a pediatric occupational therapist with over eleven years of experience and a private practice in Port Washington, N.Y., a contributing writer for FamilyFun Magazine magazine, and blogger about children’s writing development at {the write start}.  Her book is an informative resource for parents, caregivers, and library Children’s Departments because, in addition to the 52 writing activities it contains, she discusses how writing supports children’s overall neurological development, reading and learning skills, and ultimate professional and personal success.  This is my go-to resource for talking about the importance of encouraging children to write, beginning with their first scribbles at about 1-year-old.

Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books, 2011
Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl. Boston, MA: Trumpeter Books, 2011

Bruehl is a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, and founder of the award-winning website, Playful Learning  where she offers an abundance of online classes for families at the Playful Learning Ecademy.  The combination of these resources from Bruehl will keep you up at night exploring her ideas for what to do next with your youngest library patrons.  I value her book in my work because she describes the developmental stages of learning to read for children ages three to eight, and her many suggested activities support each stage, as well as children’s writing, math, science, and social skills. She suggests specific age appropriate children’s books to inspire each activity, as well as enriching websites to extend the learning and fun.  Learn how to make twig or clothbound books here, and create a library program!

What are your favorite resources to inspire daily early literacy moments for your patrons?

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Our guest blogger today is Laura Baldassari-Hackstaff.  Laura has her Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Denver, and is a Youth Librarian at Douglas County Libraries in Colorado.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

One comment

  1. KathyK

    Great post. Wonderful resources shared. Thank you.

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