Create Young Readers

Create Young Readers

Posted on Thursday April 14, 2011 at 03:07PM

Create Young Readers: Early Literacy

Very rarely will you find a public library that doesn’t have some sort of early literacy program offered to young ones who squirm around on carpets, interrupt with a story of their own, or burst into tears for seemingly no reason at all. This is the bread and butter of public libraries, the most obvious place to start: get them reading when they’re young. We’ve got the books, the space, the imagination, the resources, the market and the need. Public libraries are known for children’s programming!

But what I’m going to propose may seem a little radical to you (or some may have been doing it all along and have never told me!) I suggest that if your library has chosen Create Young Readers: Early Literacy as a priority among library service responses that you consider focusing on a different audience – adults. I’m not suggesting that you have adults in your community that you need to conduct storytime for so that they might learn to read (right now I’m imagining a group of squirrely adults in short pants on the floor of a library watching a puppet show). I am suggesting that you take your storytime expertise and instruct parents and caregivers so that they may go home and create young readers of their own.

Have you ever considered a program for adults to instruct them in the art of storytelling? It could be an excellent program for teens as well, both for those interested in drama, as well as those who do a lot of babysitting. While you may have access to the storytime kids once or maybe twice a week, parents and caregivers are with them much more. If they read to their children, even only 10 minutes a day, that adds up to over 60 hours a year. Part of engaging children in storytime and books is not just the books themselves, but how they are presented. Storytime shouldn’t just be fun for the audience, but the storyteller as well. Quite often, enjoying being a storyteller has a lot to do with being confident. If parents and caregivers are given the opportunity to learn how to incorporate puppets, actions, songs and different voices into their storytelling, they’d be more confident and therefore more likely to develop in their children a love of reading.

In addition to programs, directing parents towards appropriate material choices for young children and developing a collection to assist them in helping their children to love reading is essential. You may want to consider bundling books of the same level and topic: animals, farms, teddy bears, friendship, etc. Perhaps some new purchases for your non-fiction section to include puppet making, or techniques on storytelling would be helpful as well.

Of course, having a great selection of board books and story books for young children is an absolute must. These must be weeded frequently for condition. Any teeth marks and the item should be removed. I’ve seen some libraries where the children’s section is so crammed full that little fingers can’t easily pull them off the shelves. Like other sections of the library, shelves in the children’s section should not be more than ¾ full. Having fewer books in awesome condition will circulate far better than having a ton of books that no one wants to touch.

In terms of facilities, your children’s area needs to be welcoming not only to small children, but to parents and caregivers as well. It’s lovely having tiny chairs for tots, but having big people sized chairs where adults can rest their weary bones while their little ones toddle about is also necessary. If the adults aren’t comfortable, they’ll be less likely to spend time there, or even come back regularly.

While children are the main focus of Creating Young Readers, the adults should not be neglected. They are vital for getting the kids into the library, and working at home to continue the good work being done during children’s programs.


  • The Dewey Divas will be giving a video conference presentation on new books for children, teens and adults for public library staff and school library staff on April 26th. Look for more information to follow.
  • There’s a webinar on Using Help Desk and Email next week Thursday at 10:30 a.m. No registration is required, just follow the instructions given in yesterday’s email.
  • It’s never too early to start planning for Alberta Art Days (September 30 – October 2). Check out their website for more information and how to apply to be a Feature Celebration Site (for which you could receive up to $20,000!).


Author: Northern Lights Library System


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