By Tiffani Stewart
St. Charles City-County Library
The celebrations are over, Grandma has gone home, and you’re settling into life with a baby. Sleeping in is a thing of the past. Free time is spent washing tiny clothes and bottles. Your new daily goals involve various attempts to coax smiles from your little one. And the firsts! Did he sit for the first time today? Is she finally learning to roll over? Was that a word you just heard? Babies are tiny students, understanding more about their environments, their bodies, and their world every day. That means that you are your baby’s first teacher. Don’t be afraid. The Library can help.
Let’s start with the building blocks of literacy. Believe it or not, you can start preparing your baby to be a reader NOW, and it’s easy. (Really.) You’re probably already doing some things that will give your little learner a head start. The Library encourages you to “Grow Your Reader” using a few different types of activities:
-Reading (of course!): Reading together is one of the most important things you can do. Babies love books with pictures, bright colors, and textures. When you read aloud, do it with lots of expression and sit for just a few minutes at a time. Visit any library branch for a great selection of board books and picture books for Baby. You can also take advantage of one of our story times designed just for the youngest library users - “Baby Time”, “Tiny Tots”, “Circle Time” or “Fun for Ones”, held at different times and locations each month. While you’re at the Library, be sure to pick up a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten reading log. Keep track of the books you enjoy with your baby while you’re working towards a goal that will help him or her grow to be a great student and star reader.
-Writing: While babies can’t write or even draw, they can begin to understand the concept of writing. Use your finger to follow the words in a book as you read aloud. “Draw” in sand at the playground. Use magnetic letters to spell animal words, then make the sounds. For even more opportunities for baby writing and drawing, attend an “Art Start for Little Ones” at a Library branch near you.
-Talking: This skill is the most versatile because you can practice it anytime. Verbalize your thoughts and actions in the car, at home during chores, even at the store. (“We need blueberries. Do you see these nice blueberries? When we get home, I wonder what we’ll make with them?”) “Baby Sign Language” is a fun class at the Library for parents and kids. Instructors emphasize speaking while signing to help your baby communicate early and often.
-Singing: It doesn’t matter if you have a beautiful voice or not, babies love singing! Singing puts words to rhythm and teaches alphabet sounds. If you’re not comfortable singing, clapping along with the syllables is an easy way to get started. (“Let’s go out and play!” with 5 claps.) Use our eLibrary to find great resources for kids that incorporate music. Both Tumblebook Library and Kanopy Kids offer animated picture books. You can also try a “Grow Your Reader: Toddler Tunes” class for more ideas.
-Playing: Surprised? Playing is important. Play peek-a-boo. Play pretend. Encourage dress up. Come to the Library to let little ones play with the toys in the children’s area of your nearest branch. Search “Sprout Learning Backpack” in the myLibrary Catalog to browse a selection of kits that contain books and toys that go together and promote imaginative play.
These five building blocks of literacy truly build a path that leads kids to a lifelong love of reading. If you incorporate easy activities from these categories into your daily routines with baby, toddler, preschooler, and beyond, the results will be fulfilling and FUN.
For more help, join the library’s “Grow Your Reader” Facebook page for regular information about library materials and classes, and tips and ideas for helping young ones grow and learn. You can also visit the FOR KIDS section of our website, myLibrary.org. Check the latest Kaleidoscope magazine for a complete list of “Grow Your Reader” classes and events.
Take a look at what’s happening this month for all ages at the Boone’s Trail and Augusta Branch Libraries:
• Summer Reading: A Universe of Stories (all branches), May 20-Aug. 1. One month left to complete your mission, finish a game board, and earn prizes that are out of this world! Open to all ages. Register at any branch or at org/SummerReading.
• Escape Room: Astronaut Academy* (Boone’s Trail) Thurs., July 11th, 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. NASA needs you! Complete a puzzle-solving mission as a moon pioneer. Register for one of two available times.
• Movie Night: Galaxy Quest* (Augusta), Wed., July 17th, 6:30 p.m. For four years, the courageous crew of the NSEA Protector had thrilling missions in space…until their T.V. series was canceled. When an alien nation beams up the crew, the actors must actually save the universe! Register the family for this fun PG-rated movie.
• I Love Quilts (Augusta), Tues., July 2nd, 10:00 a.m. If you love to quilt, join us for this month’s demonstration. Bring your Show and Tell project, and don’t forget Block of the Month!
• Pinochle* (Augusta), Tues., July 9th, 4:00 p.m. Learn to play Pinochle, the classic card game that encourages “trick-taking”. Register for fun and friendly competition.
• Augusta Book Discussion* (Augusta), Mon., July 15th, 2:00 p.m. When Martha Gellhorn travels to Madrid to report on the Spanish Civil War, she meets a young Ernest Hemingway. Pick up a copy of Love and Ruin by Paula McLain at the library, then join us for a discussion of this historical fiction favorite.
• 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s* (Boone’s Trail), Tues., July 16th, 6:00 p.m. Learn the common warning signs, how to approach someone about memory concerns, and the resources that are available for those suffering from Alzheimer’s. (Presented in partnership with Barnes Jewish/Progress West Hospitals.)
• English Paper Piecing* (Augusta), Tues., July 16th, 4:00 p.m. Bring a sewing needle, thread, and small scissors to learn the art of English Paper Piecing, a quilting technique that allows for beautiful and intricate designs.
• New Melle Nonfiction Book Discussion Group* (Boone’s Trail), Thurs., July 18th, 10:00 a.m. Pick up Why Time Flies by Alan Burdick from the library, then join us for a fascinating discussion of time. What makes you tick?
• Make It Sew: Placemat Zipper Bag* (Augusta), , July 18th, 4:30 p.m. If you have sewing skills, you’ll love this fun bag made from a placemat. Call the branch or check our online calendar for a materials list and instructions.
• Galaxy Coasters* (Augusta), Mon., July 29th, drop in all day. Turn a tile square into a beverage coaster using Sharpie markers and a little creativity.
• Let’s Play Crazy Rummy* (Boone’s Trail), Mondays at 10:30 a.m. Register to play rummy. Have fun and socialize! Beginners welcome.
• Coffee at the Library (Augusta), Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. Come in for a hot cup of coffee, a sweet treat, and some great conversation.
• Hand and Foot Canasta* (Boone’s Trail), Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. Register to play the rummy card game that uses two decks of cards – a hand and a foot. This friendly group loves to relax and spend time together at the library. Join them!
• Yarn Arts (Augusta), Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. Knit, crochet, embroider, cross stitch, talk, and share with other yarn artists like you.
• Discovery Kids: States of Matter * (Boone’s Trail), Mon., July 1st, 6:00 p.m. As a matter of fact, we’ll be learning about states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.
• Let’s Create: Fourth of July Crafts (Augusta) Mon., July 1st, all day drop in. Celebrate our nation’s birthday by creating a variety of festive crafts.
• Let’s Create: Out-of-This-World Slime (Augusta) Mon., July 8th, all day drop in. Are you starry-eyed for slime? Stop in to make the best slime in the universe!
• Story Time (Boone’s Trail), Thurs., July 11th, 10:30 a.m.; Mon., July 15th, 6:00 p.m. (Dress for a beach day!); Thurs., July 25th, 10:30 a.m. Stories, songs, and crafts to enhance early literacy. Story time is open to children ages 3-6.
• Let’s Create: Go Fly a Kite* (Boone’s Trail) Tues., July 16th, 1:00 p.m. The sky’s the limit when you construct and decorate your own kite.
• Let’s Explore: Avid Adventurers* (Boone’s Trail) Thurs., July 18th, 5:30 p.m. Explore ancient and modern-day Greece through reading and playing. (Grades 1-5)
• Let’s Create: Bird Feeders (Boone’s Trail) Tues., July 23rd, all day drop in. Treat your feathered friends to a peanut butter snack with this quick and easy feeder.
• Tale Waggers: Read to a Dog* (Boone’s Trail), Tues., July 30th, 6:00 p.m. Reluctant readers can gain confidence by reading to a dog! A friendly attentive dog from “Love on a Leash” will listen with patience and reward readers with love.
• Let’s Create: Harry Potter’s Birthday* (Augusta) Tues., July 30th, 1:00 p.m. Celebrate the boy wizard’s birthday by constructing a wizard wand and a golden snitch.
*Register at myLibrary.org or call Boone’s Trail at 636-398-6200 or Augusta at 636-228-4855.
The Boone’s Trail and Augusta branches are open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 noon.
**All library branches are closed on Thursday, July 4th for Independence Day**