Early literacy and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

1000 Books Before Kindergarten logoThe 1000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative is one I first heard about via the Cambridge Public Library. Like all the best arts & crafts projects and recipes, it looks wildly impressive, but is actually quite simple and manageable. As their mission statement says, “Numerous studies estimate that as many as one in five children have difficulties learning to read. Reading has been associated as an early indicator of academic success. Public formal education does not typically start until ages 5-6. Before then, parents and caregivers are the first education providers during the 0-5 early critical years.” The goals of the organization are simply “to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers” and “to encourage parent and child bonding through reading.”

A thousand books sounds like a lot, but remember that picture books are short, and board books are really short. If you read just one book a day, that’s 365 books in one year, 730 books in two years, 1,095 books in three years, and 1,460 books in four years. It doesn’t have to be a thousand unique books, either; young children love (and learn from) repetition, growing more familiar with words, rhymes, and patterns.

If your parents, caregivers, and teachers read to you when you were a young child, then you’ve already shared this experience and it will be easier for you to model it from the other side. If reading aloud to/with a child isn’t as natural for you, or if you aren’t sure why it is important, here are some resources to help:

  • Reading Tips for Parents from the Department of Education (in English and Spanish)
  • Early Learning tips from the Hennepin County Library: “Learn how all family members and your public library can help prepare young children to be readers with five early literacy activities [talk, sing, read, write, play] that are fun yet powerful ways to encourage early learning.”
  • The Six Early Literacy Skills [PDF] from Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR)

If you don’t know what books to read to (or with) your child, librarians can help! If you can get to a storytime, that’s great – a good storytime librarian will model great read-aloud strategies, and for younger ages will often include fingerplay, songs, and rhymes; reasonable people don’t expect two-year-olds to sit still and listen quietly for half an hour! A decent bookstore is also likely to have a weekly storytime, and staff who can recommend great books for little ones.

If you can’t get to a storytime, just ask a librarian or bookseller what they recommend, and they should be able to give suggestions based on your child’s age and interests. Here are some other resources for finding great books to share with your child:

Does your library, bookstore, school, or other organization support 1000 Books Before Kindergarten? Have you participated with your child? There are participation resources on the site, from reading logs to certificates to apps to hashtags, though my favorite idea is keeping a handwritten reading journal. In general I don’t like incentives (e.g. “if you read 100 books you get a sticker”) because reading is its own reward (intrinsic motivation), but I like the T-shirt – it reflects pride in an accomplishment, and helps spread the word about the program.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten display at the Guilford (CT) Public Library

1000 Books Before Kindergarten display at the Guilford (CT) Public Library (names and faces obscured for privacy purposes)

Advertisements

What do people do all day?

Cover image of What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry

What Do People Do All Day?

What do librarians do all day?

The scope of library jobs has expanded over the years. In many places, “reference librarians” are now called “adult services” or “information services” librarians to reflect the additional tasks and responsibilities we’ve taken on. Reference services are still a core part of the job, as is collection management (someone has to buy new books…and get rid of old ones). We plan programs, too, and of course, there are always “other duties as assigned.”

At the reference desk: Now that we have the Internet, what kinds of questions do librarians answer?

We still answer the occasional “ready reference” or simple question about a fact (spelling, grammar, geography, phone number lookup). We answer questions about library services: our hours, where the restrooms are located, how to reserve a museum pass or study room, where to find books/music/movies. We answer LOTS of tech questions and do a lot of troubleshooting: we help people use library apps like OverDrive, we help them print and make copies, we help them scan, we help them check out laptops and use library software, we show them library databases.

We answer questions about books and recommend books based on reader’s preferences (those are my favorite questions!). We help people navigate the internet to find information they need, whether it’s looking for an apartment on Craigslist, looking for love on a dating website, or applying for a job online. We help people in languages other than English. We help people doing research for school projects and college classes, and help people make Inter-Library Loan (ILL) requests for books that are not in our library network. We answer local history questions and connect people with unique local history resources.

Collection development: Where do the books come from (and where do they go)?

“Collection management” or “collection development” is the library term for acquiring new materials and deaccessioning (a.k.a. weeding) others, to maintain a collection that is current and interesting to our users. There is more collection development work now than there used to be, because there are more formats – not just fiction and nonfiction books, and magazines and newspapers, but paperbacks, foreign language materials, large print books, graphic novels and manga, audiobooks on CD and Playaway, digital content (e-books and digital audiobooks), movies and documentaries on DVD, music on CD, electronic databases, streaming services, video games, and more.

Library users may not think about where library materials come from, but someone has to select every title in every format. It’s a bigger job than it used to be, and it takes a lot of time: time to read (or skim) reviews in at least one review source (though there are many – Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, School Library Journal, to name a few, and VOYA and The Horn Book for teens and children’s books), time to make lists and order the materials, time to keep track of spending so you’re neither under- nor over-budget by the end of the fiscal year.

 

Making things happen: What’s involved in planning a program?

You may well ask! “Program” is a bland word. A library program can be almost anything: a book group (and we have five of these, three of which are run by librarians, one of which – mine! – is a cookbook club that does a potluck), a lecture or author talk, a crafting project, a music concert, a film screening, a theater performance, a dance lesson, a tech petting zoo. We have offered computer classes, drop-in tech help sessions, resume and cover letter workshops, holiday card writing stations, game nights, and singalongs (not just for kids! Les Miserables and Pitch Perfect were very popular with adults).

For every program, there is a whole checklist of tasks to complete, in many different places (physical and digital):

  • Reserve event space on the library’s internal calendar (Google calendar)
  • Create the event on the library website calendar (WordPress)
  • If there is an outside performer/presenter, set a date and time and agree on payment or travel costs (e-mail or phone)
  • Add the event to our monthly press release (Google docs)
  • Create a flyer to post in the library (Publisher or Canva)
  • Make another version of the flyer to fit our digital sign (Publisher and Paint or Canva) and upload (Dropbox)
  • Make additional promo materials (e.g. bookmarks or half- or quarter-sheet handouts)
  • Write a blog post (WordPress)
  • Promote on social media (Facebook and Twitter via Hootsuite)
  • Set up event registration, if using, and send a reminder to participants (Eventbrite)

And that’s all before the day of the program itself. On that day, there is the time of the program itself, plus setup and cleanup, remembering to take a head count of attendees, and perhaps asking them to fill out a feedback form to help improve future programming.

The work of program planning, collection development, and creating displays largely takes place during our off-desk hours (the time that we are not at the reference desk), because, as they say, reports of our death have been greatly exaggerated; the library is busier than ever.

Other duties as assigned

Reference service, collection development, and program planning are three big chunks of the adult services librarian job. What else do we do? This varies from library to library. Here, we create displays (we have three display tables, and we create new displays every month, which means that our team of five full-time librarians creates thirty-six displays each year), write for the library blog, offer a variety of “readers’ advisory” services (from our staff picks shelf to our Goodreads account to handouts on specific topics or genres), contribute to the library’s social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter), attend monthly department meetings and other meetings for various committees and groups, and attend the occasional conference or other professional development activity. And of course, there are little tasks that take up time, such as refilling office supplies, cleaning up messes, watering the office plants, and anything else that arises.

So that’s what librarians do all day. Do you work in a library? What parts of your job do you think would surprise people?

 

Quotes from books, part VIII

Continuing the “quotes from books” series, this batch of quotes is from books I read between May 2017 and August 2017. The tenth quote here sums up the year pretty nicely.

  1.  “My mother always said that kindness was love in disguise.”Dodger, Terry Pratchett
  2.  “Every act of communication is a miracle of translation.” -from the preface of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu
  3.  “I am not one thing. I am everyone and everything that has touched me. This is the basic principle of forensic science: every contact leaves a trace.” (accompanied by an illustration)You Are Here, Jenny Lawson
  4.  “It’s not moving on…it’s moving differently.”Holding Up the Universe, Jennifer Niven
  5.  From “A Short History of Silence” in The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit: (a) “If the right to speak, if having credibility, if being heard is a kind of wealth, that wealth is now being redistributed”; (b) “Silence protects violence.”
  6.  From Elizabeth Wein’s author’s note at the end of The Pearl Thief: “This is what authors do: we make up stuff that might be true.”
  7.  Quoted in Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places: “We do not remember days, we remember moments.” (Cesare Pavese)Cover image of Among Others
  8.  “It is hard to see who a person is, through all of those memories of who they were.” –When the English Fall, David Williams
  9.  “How terribly hard it is to accept that other people feel what we feel.” –Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give, Ada Calhoun
  10.  “There are some awful things in the world, it’s true, but there are also some great books.” –Among Others, Jo Walton

See previous installments in this series here:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII

Top Ten Mix and Match

Skimming the list of Top Ten Tuesday topics at The Broke and the Bookish, I noticed several for which I had a single instant answer, but not a list of ten. So I decided I’d make a list of ten of the Top Ten Tuesday topics for which I had one (okay, one-ish) answer each:

  1. Most Intimidating Books: Anything over 600 pages, really. It makes no sense – it just means reading one book instead of two in the same amount of time – but it’s a deterrent nevertheless.
  2. Books I Wish I Read As A Kid: Alanna and the whole Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. And Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown would have been useful right after college.
  3. Characters (and Literary Figures) That I Would Did Name My Children After: Lyra from The Golden Compass. (Also strongly considered Clare, from The Time Traveler’s Wife.)
  4. Hilarious Book Titles: I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

    Book cover of Maine

    NOT an accurate representation of the novel Maine.

  5. Book Covers I Wish I Could Redesign: Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. The photo of a young woman in a bathing suit on a beach does not represent this book AT ALL. I didn’t love the paperback cover for Gold by Chris Cleave, either, but the hardcover design was great.
  6. Books That Broke Your Heart: The Amber Spyglass was the first book I remember reading where I got to the end and thought the exact word heartbreaking.
  7. Most Frustrating Characters: Harry Potter in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was so whiny and angsty, and so terrible to Ron and Hermione, that I actually hated reading some parts of the book, no matter how realistic his behavior for a character that age. Be better, Harry!
  8. Series I’d Like to Start, but Haven’t Yet: The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, and the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. Maybe also something by Leigh Bardugo. I’m taking suggestions…
  9. Sequels We Can’t Wait to Get Our Hands On: I’m eager for the next book in any good series I start…but I remember being particularly desperate for each new book in Maggie Steifvater’s Raven Cycle, and I’ve been waiting for the second volume in The Book of Dust since the moment I read the last page of the first volume, La Belle Sauvage.
  10. Book Covers I’d Frame As Pieces of Art: I actually have two (2) pieces of Time Traveler’s Wife-related art on my walls: a Litograph, and an acrylic painting of the cover, done by a good friend. I wouldn’t mind a Litograph of Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, either. Oh, and we have Mo Willems’ Pigeon, as well. I probably could come up with ten pieces of bookish art I’d want…