As a new youth librarian fresh out of graduate school, I knew that I wanted to specialize myself in early literacy, improve my storytimes, and create budget-friendly passive programs in the children’s space at my library. I spent several hours scouring the internet trying to find the best free early literacy resources and I thought I would share a few of my favorites and why I like them.
First, is a free course from the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington on the science of brain development. They discuss topics including the development of literacy, whether children understand race and the research behind it, early STEM, early numeracy, and more. The course is broken up into modules that take 20-30 minutes to complete, and I have gotten several early literacy tips for my storytimes from this course. They keep the lessons relatively short and at a level that is easy to understand for people who may not have science backgrounds while still teaching the science behind child development.
Next, is Best Storytelling Practices: A Webinar Series with Jenifer Strauss of Story Be Told that was put on by the Library of Michigan. I haven’t made it through all these webinars yet because there are quite a few, but Jenifer Strauss is an amazing and creative storyteller who has given me several ideas for my storytimes. She also talks about child brain development as well as the five Every Child Ready to Read® practices and how she incorporates these in her storytimes. All of these were recorded within the past few years and it is nice to have some recent webinar recordings to go to.
Following, is Saroj Ghoting’s Supercharged Storytime course and her website. If you haven’t heard of the course, I highly recommend spending the time to go through it because it will really help improve your storytimes. She discusses early literacy and ways to supercharge your storytimes with ideas such as adding early literacy tips to each one. Her website is just as amazing as the supercharged storytimes course. She has articles and handouts linked that help with the implementation of the Every Child Ready to Read® practices and also resources that give background on children’s brain and language development. She also has a section on her website just for storytimes that I have searched through when looking for inspiration in planning my own storytimes.
An ALSC blog post called Developing Storytime for the Whole Child from March 21 written by Katie Cerqua of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee reviews these practices as well and is also worth a read.
For passive program ideas, I want to give a huge shoutout to Pinterest. I’m sure many of you have spent as much time as I have scouring Pinterest trying to find ideas you can use at your library, and it really is a great resource. Parents, librarians, homeschoolers, and teachers share flannel ideas for storytimes or other activities, passive program ideas, and even displays all for a range of budgets. Oftentimes, just looking at others’ ideas helps me to come up with my own idea that fits what I am trying to do with the materials I already have on hand.
These early literacy resources have been extremely helpful in my quest to become an early literacy specialist and I know there are many more out there, so if you know of any that I didn’t mention, please do share them!
Today’s guest blogger Kirsten Caldwell has master’s degrees in both chemistry and information science with a certificate in youth services. She is a new youth services assistant at a public library and works with ages 0-18, though early literacy is where she wants to specialize. She is passionate about programming and best storytime practices and joined ALSC to meet and learn from other librarians around the country.
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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