One of the reasons that I love my job is that I can connect my passions with serving my community. In particular, I’ve had this dream of practice picture books as an early literacy service since around 2017, but something always came up and I never got to it. When I became a manager, this dream got put on the back burner’s back-est of back burners. Until now.
I often hear parents or caregivers say that they want their toddlers/preschoolers to move past board books and into picture books, but they are concerned that the books are too delicate for their child’s use. They know the toddler death grip is real or notorious destructive preschoolers may accidentally or not, tear or rip the pages of picture books. These fears may sound important to patrons who don’t want to destroy precious books or who may worry about a fine, but at the library, we want books to be read, and used, and enjoyed! (Even if they are sometimes destroyed].
Enter, practice picture books! I have been gathering deleted picture books that are engaging and interesting and already a bit worn, but that are ready to still be enjoyed. I created a label in Canva and a taped design to delineate the books from others in the collection. I made a sign to alert patrons that these books are free to be loved– and to not worry if they are damaged.
They are perfect for little ones to practice flipping the page and learning how books move from left to right. I also found a soft cubbie to store them in so that they can stay on the floor and near the other board books, as a next step to learning about the style of picture books.
I created the practice picture books back in mid-December, and they have now been a very beloved part of the early literacy activities at my branch. I often see children practicing using the picture books and working on learning to flip the pages (with some instruction from their caregivers). We have not had anyone try to check out the books, and surprisingly, have not had any major tears or rips in the books. I consider this trial a success!