The Mifflin County Library believes that reading is an essential life skill, and learning to read begins before children start school. Lifelong learning is a primary role of the public library, and public libraries need to support parents and caregivers as they develop early literacy skills in children from birth to age 5. Help your children develop early literacy skills now; this makes it easier for children to learn to read once they begin school.
The Mifflin County Library's programs for young children focus on the premise that children are made readers on the laps of their parents. We encourage parents to participate in all of the programs. We start early, promoting programs with clearly defined goals for infants that continue through preschool.
Such programs include:
JV Family photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Mifflin County Library’s Children Librarian Susan Miriello reads a book during Toddler Time while Josie Wert places a page from the book on the board.
1) Baby Story Time with Miss Susan, a 20-minute story time for babies and their grown-up. We read books, sing and learn finger plays because learning to read at an early age helps with language development. Baby Story Time begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 10 and continues for a six week session. Pre-registration is required.
Baby Story Time is sponsored by the United Way of Mifflin and Juniata Counties, which provides one book per week to each baby who attends the program. The purpose of the program is to provide babies with the start of a small home library and to provide parents with an example of how to read aloud with enthusiasm.
2) Toddler Time is a fun, interactive story time for little ones ages 20 months to 3.5-years-old. Each session lasts for 30 minutes and runs for six weeks. There are two sessions of Toddler Time with Miss Susan, beginning at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Lewistown library. Registration is limited and required by calling the library at 242-2391.
During Toddler Time, both toddlers and parents will find the library as a wonderful place of learning and fun. They will view books as valuable and enjoyable, giving the toddler the building blocks for early reading. It's amazing to watch a toddler grow and learn the difference between the front and back of a book while learning how to turn the pages one at a time. Toddler Time also builds vocabulary through talking and sharing with other children and grown-ups. When speaking with toddlers and asking them questions, it's important to wait at least twenty seconds for them to answer. They need time to think before they can speak.
3) Preschool Story Time is 45 minutes, filled with funny puppet and flannel board stories for children ages 3 to 5 years old. Each week, we do three stories and a craft based on the weekly animal theme. Story time runs for six weeks and siblings are always welcome.
There are two sessions of Preschool Story Time offered at the Lewistown library, beginning at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1 with Miss Kelly or 6 p.m. on Oct. 1 with Miss Susan. Registration is limited and required. Preschool Story Time is also offered at Rothrock Branch library and Kish Branch library.
The goals for Preschool Story Time are to provide the children with basic building blocks to learn how to read when they enter kindergarten. Many are able to recognize their own names on their name-tags. We also focus on phonological awareness, which is letter sounds and rhymes, and we teach letter knowledge. By offering a weekly craft activity, we are teaching hand-eye coordination and writing skills (plus, what child doesn't love cutting with scissors?).
4) Play to Learn is a play group for little ones ages 12 months to 36 months old and their siblings. The toys are age appropriate for younger friends. We meet on the first Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to11 a.m. on Oct. 4, Nov.1 and Dec. 6. Parents are encouraged to bring snacks for the group and the library will provide coffee for the grown-ups. Miss Susan will also read a book. Sign-ups are not necessary.
Play is one of the best ways for children to learn language and literacy skills. Play helps children think symbolically: Our jumbo foam blocks become a castle that we can knock over! Play can also teaches children accomplishment and self-confidence. This motivates them to try new experiences and push through when something seems difficult.
No matter what your child's age, reading together, or shared reading, is the single most important activity that you can do to help your child learn to read. Shared reading helps a child develop love for reading and an appreciation for books. Children who enjoy being read to are more likely to want to learn and read themselves. Similarly, sharing the library with your child helps your child develop a love of the library and books.
Susan Mirello is the children's librarian at the Mifflin County Library. For more information, call the library at 242-2391 or visit www.mifflincountylibrary.org.