Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Early Childhood Program Plans for Fall 2021

Last week, I posted a link on ALA Connect to a very informal Google Forms survey to collect some data on plans for early childhood programming for this coming fall, and also shared it with heads of children’s departments here in Suffolk County, NY. So far 40 people have filled out the survey! Thank you all so much for providing this data, an overview of which I’ll be sharing in this post.   Concerns about what conditions we’ll be facing this coming fall are on everyone’s minds as we plan programs and services for the remainder of 2021. As of the time of this post, children under 12 are still not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This, combined with concerns about the continuing spread of the Delta variant, has many library staff thinking about how to offer safe and engaging programs for our youngest patrons and families as we move…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Pivoting to Summer Services at the System Level: Outdoor Storytime Kits for Libraries

For the past several years, public library systems in New York State have received funds through the New York State Family Literacy Library Services Program, with the theme of Ready to Read at New York Libraries through Public Library Systems – in other words, grant funding for programs and services that center on early and family literacy. During any normal year, this is an exciting opportunity for the Youth Services department of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System (SCLS) to offer new and innovative workshops and shared resources to the staff of our member libraries. But during the past year, as with all things, finding a useful application for these funds became a new challenge. Zoom-based professional development opportunities were one option we went with (including two wonderful workshops from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art that just wrapped up), but we hoped to offer libraries more hands-on tools…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Libraries Build Readers and Learners

In 2005 I became a children’s librarian, and within weeks of signing the offer letter, the library trained me in Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR). The training couldn’t have happened at a better time in my personal or professional life. The knowledge, skills, and tools I learned changed my career trajectory. Librarians Foster a Love of Reading I thought I learned everything I needed to know about fostering a love of reading during my MLIS program. The ECRR training taught me about neural pathways, brain elasticity, and more. I discovered finding fun and engaging books was only a part of the reading success formula. There was a lot more that went into learning to read. A lot more. Librarians Model Reading Readiness and Learning Sixteen years after my ECRR training and now a children’s services team manager, I find myself at an exciting new learning crossroads. Yes, our checklist…

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Planning for Outdoor Storytimes

I miss in-person storytimes. I miss the cacophony of voices prior to settling into our opening song. I miss encouraging full body movements of the Fruit Salad Song without worrying about fitting everything into the camera frame of a computer. Most of all, I miss watching toddlers scurry about on the fringes of the storytime crowd, absorbing everything. The joy and chaos of an in-person storytime always brings a smile to my face. Now that it’s growing warmer and nicer weather (if not actual sunshine) more consistent, I see many librarians considering outdoor storytimes. I planned an outdoor storytime run as part of my summer programming last year; then Covid hit and shut everything down. Now I’m excited to bring this plan to fruition. What do you need for an outdoor storytime? Here are some things to consider.

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Pet Show & Tell!

I know I speak for many when I say that one pain point of the pandemic is missing interactions with kids. Prior to March, 2020, my Kids & Families core service team made monthly story time visits to preschools, Head Starts, and childcare classrooms. In previous summers, we brought our summer reading program to summer schools, school-aged enrichment programs, and camps. Needless to say, all of that was cancelled. Pivot was the operative word, as we moved to virtual story times, online book clubs, and virtual Crafternoons. From there, more creative ideas developed to engage with kids. Monthly virtual Pet Show & Tell launched during winter break, with staff-hosted 45-minute Zoom sessions: All About Dogs, Crazy for Cats, and Share Your Stuffies. Starting with a pet-themed story, kids then were invited to take turns sharing their pets, with guided questions such as:• What does your pet like to do?• What…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Singing Brings Connections

Before I was born, my mom was a kindergarten teacher. When I was young, I remember her waking me up most mornings by singing “Good morning to you… good morning to you. We’re all in our places with sunshiny faces. Good morning to you… good morning to you.”  When I started my career as a Children’s Librarian, I decided to begin each storytime with this same song. It gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort in those early days of nervous storytime presentations.  In the subsequent months I began to notice the audience swaying back and forth as I sang, and it was only then that I realized I swayed as I sang too. It was our shared ritual- the singing, the swaying, the pointing at our “sunshiny” cheeks. Something we all looked forward to each week. I remember parents telling me how their child would “play” storytime at…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Concern for Screentime and Very Young Children in Regards to Virtual Programming

Virtual programming has been the norm for most of the past year for most if not all public libraries. Librarians have expressed concern about how this might impact very young children (toddlers and younger) and their families.  We know that the American Academy of Pediatrics historically discouraged media exposure for children under two but have since eased up with the increased use of Facetime, Zoom and other media communication methods. Asked about this, Sarah R. Lytle, Ph.D., Director of Outreach and Education at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington replied: “As you know, the more interactive, the better for younger children. That can mean a caregiver interacting with children around the screen or the child interacting with another adult ‘through’ the screen (i.e., video chat). There is some new research that preschoolers comprehend stories read via video chat just as they do when…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Children Are Designed for Wonder

“The things he sees are not just remembered; they become a part of his soul.”  Dr. Maria Montessori from The Absorbent Mind, 1949  In Montessori methodology, books shared with young children center around family life, daily routines, or nature. Talking animals are discouraged.  Not because Montessori teachers hate imagination, but the teachers understand our youngest readers’ work focuses on the world they can touch, taste, see, hear, and feel. Abstract thought happens in adolescence or the second plane of development. In the first plane of development, teachers surround toddlers and preschoolers with books in an orderly and realistic world. As the youngsters progress through development, they grow into creative thinkers who turn the known world into an imaginative one.  As a parent and a trained librarian, I struggled with this when my oldest child began Montessori school. Isn’t any reading beneficial to the child? Does that mean I can’t read Guess How Much I Love You? As I watched my oldest child play, I saw them doing the work of…