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Library Helps Children Build Skills They Need to Succeed in Life

Librarians were heartened to see “early childhood development” among the concerns in the City of Springfield’s new Field Guide 2030 approved by city council last week.

This 20-year plan was designed by a wide cross section of citizens to establish a route for Springfield’s future. Among other things, the citizens hope that by 2030 our community will provide the best home possible for our children. They write, “…High-quality early care and education are two of the most important preventive actions we can support to ensure our children get the best possible start in life.”

We couldn’t agree more. The library’s influence spans from education to recreation, but it shines when it comes to helping parents help their children prepare for life.

We invite parents and caregivers to take advantage of what’s already happening for kids daily inside and outside of the library, and grow with us as we push to reach that 2030 goal.

At the heart of our work is a focus on early literacy – what a child needs to know even before learning to read and write. Through Racing to Read story times and activities, librarians show parents some playful ways to build those pre-reader skills. We encourage five fun activities that prepare children for reading.

In Racing to Read to Go, librarians work with agencies that work with families. The agencies’ staffs learn how to incorporate early literacy activities into their play with at-risk families, and we provide free books for families to read to their children. It’s funded by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. In 2012, the first year of that program, 176 staff members from nine organizations received early literacy training; it reached 1,220 family caregivers and distributed almost 3,000 books.

Librarians also encourage reading to children through community projects: Family Voices invites parents or relatives to read a story aloud, it’s recorded and added to a CD full of recorded stories that they take home. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library sends a free book each month to preschoolers.

The writers of the Field Guide 2030 put it this way: “Giving children a healthy start in life includes making sure they enter kindergarten equipped with the skills needed to succeed.”

The library is a great place to start.


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