Books and babies should be friends from the beginning

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Friday mornings at the Provo City Library are anything but quiet, at least in the children’s section. Instead of being shushed, patrons are encouraged to sing, clap and run about. Welcome to story time.

Book Babies, a story time for children under 2 year of age, meets every Friday at 10 a.m. in the story telling area. Children and parents gather in the storytelling circle to learn songs and rhymes from “The Wheels on the Bus” to “Row row row your boat.”

[easyembed field=”Photogallery”]Laura Black, 25, a landscape management major from Georgia, recently came for the first time with her 5-month-old son McKay.

“We decided to check it out–get out of the house,” Black said. “It was so much fun. I didn’t really know what to expect, but he had a good time. He was smiling the whole time.”

Heather Lue, a Children’s Storyteller at the library, said she began to get involved with literacy program after working at her son’s school. Lue said she saw many children struggling to read and understand the concepts. When a job opened up at the library, Lue said saw it as a way to help prevent those problems.

“I also am a ham, and that helps, too,” she said. “Its a great opportunity to help the kids get a good start–even if it’s a little bit.”

The task of teaching a child how to read or even just preparing them for that step can be daunting, especially to young or new mothers.

“I’m a first time mom, and I really don’t know too much of what to do,” Black said.  “We’ve got some ideas to go home and sing and play….I love the singing and learning new songs, rhymes and games.”

The library hosts several other programs aimed at preparing young children to grow into great readers. Such early literacy programs focus on talking, singing, reading, writing and playing with young children in such a way that they learn about word relationships before they ever begin to read.

Donna Cardon, the library’s children’s program coordinator, said developing good reading skills starts at a very young age.

“The early literacy research shows that the time between zero and five is critical to prepary children to be good readers later,” she said. “There are certain skills you learn at that age that if they don’t get, then they are going to be behind in school for a long time.”

To make the task of teaching easier on parents, Book Babies focuses on giving parents small tools to teach their children about everyday occurrences.

“This year especially, we are trying to focus on what they can do in their daily life,” Lou said. “How you can work with your child–not even work–play with your child about different things: eating and sleeping and transportation.”

To help make story time more interactive, the library owns a large assortment of puppets and props to incorporate during story time.

“The whole workroom is just full of stuff,” Cardon said. “It’s so we can be creative. You have to have stuff to be creative.”

Cardon added that while most libraries have volunteer storytellers, there is a lot of time and effort that goes into training storytellers at the Provo library.

In the end, Lue said, these programs are about making reading and learning enjoyable.

“If [children] knew it was fun and knew that it was something that was warm and snugly, you know, being with a mom or a dad reading a book, it’s a special memory,” Lue said.

For more information on library programs and ways to get involved, visit www.ProvoLibrary.com.

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