Libraries help provide a reading spark for young

MILFORD TIMES  •  By Philip Allmen  •  STAFF WRITER • February 24, 2011

 
When Brenda Storey starts talking about kids and the library, her eyes sparkle.

That's probably a good thing, since she's one of the children's librarians at the Highland Public Library. Whether it's working with toddlers and their caregivers in a toddler's class or helping a middle schooler work on a science project, Storey said the library is a great place to turn for all sorts of things.

Everything the library does is geared toward creating that spark to encourage a lifelong love of books. And working with parents to nurture their children's desire to learn.

“There's always materials we have with books and videos to help them in their endeavors to encourage their children's literacy skills,” Storey said.

Libraries have always offered story times for children. But the intent of programs like that have evolved over time and actually play an important role in a child's development, according to Storey. “You're consciously thinking of the literary ways to help that child,” she said. Rhythm and rhyme, staples in such programs, help build the foundation that language is based.

And while libraries are hiring more staff with education and childhood backgrounds, librarians are not teachers. Instead, they can help provide “safe, nourishing places to practice and encourage literacy,” said Storey.

But many libraries like the Highland library focuses on early childhood, which helps the youth prepare for school by building on their skills and introducing them to a group setting.

For young readers, picture books are a great way to start, teaching the child how to read a book and providing contextual clues to help discern the story itself. And reading with a child helps develop a connection to reading itself.

“Picture books have a great impact on the reading process,” said Storey.

A growing program at the Highland library is its “Reading to Rover” program, where kids, particular those reluctant readers, can sit with a therapy dog and read to the animal.

“It's a chance to practice with a nonjudgmental friend,” Storey said. The kids tend to become more comfortable with the dogs, who volunteer their time with their owners from the Mason-based For Better Independence Assistance Dogs.

Learn more about some of the programs at the Highland Public Library at www.highlandlibrary.info.

pallmen@gannett.com | (248) 685-1507, Ext. 226

Jenny Rasch is ready to lend a helping hand to daughter Haley, 2, while she works with paint at Friday's Great Parents, Great Start Playgroup at the Highland Township Library. Find more photos from the event online at hometownlife.com.
 
Jenny Rasch is ready to lend a helping hand to daughter Haley, 2, while she works with paint at Friday's Great Parents, Great Start Playgroup at the Highland Township Library. Find more photos from the event online at hometownlife.com. / Photos by Hal Gould | Staff Photographer
Hazel Syke, 2, adds a little more paint to her artwork at a program held last week at the Highland library.
 
Hazel Syke, 2, adds a little more paint to her artwork at a program held last week at the Highland library.

Program highlights

The Highland Public Library has several youth programs running in March. Reach the library at (248) 887-2218 or www.highlandlibrary.info.
Dr. Seuss Party
Thursday, March 3, 10:30 a.m. For kids ages 3-5. Time to celebrate, Dr. Seuss-style, for his birthday.
Toddler Class
For children ages 18-35 months. Runs Mondays, 10:30-11 a.m. March 7-28. Register beginning Feb. 28.
Preschool Class
For children ages 3-5. Runs Tuesdays, 10:30-11 a.m. March 8-29. Register beginning Feb. 28.
Family Art Project
For families with kids ages 3 and older. Create an easy-to-make watercolor. March 19, 10:30 a.m.
Stuffed Animal Sleepover
Party geared for kids ages 3-7. Bring your second favorite stuffed buddy for a party, then tuck him in for the night. March 25, 4:15 p.m. Registration starts March 15.
Wolves Howling in Michigan
Kids in grades 1-6. Author and wolf educator Beth Duman brings therapy dogs, masks and skulls to share wolf knowledge. Registration starts March 15.
Reading to Rover
A chance for children to practice their reading in a stress-free environment. Call to arrange a time.