DCDL focused on helping early learners


We’re nearing the end of the “Back to the Basics” series that I began just over a month ago. Any further into this series and we’re no longer talking basics! As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy for library staff members to get granular with our library discussions because we are so excited to tell our patrons about all the wonderful things that we offer.

This week, we’ll take a closer look at the commitment that the Delaware County District Library has made to engage early readers before they begin their formal school years. While many educational opportunities begin once a child is school-aged, a public library is one of the only open and freely accessible public institutions that assists children (and caregivers!) with early literacy and early learning development.

Of course, libraries are fully engaged in lifelong learning opportunities for all of our patrons, but we also believe that a love of learning begins at birth. This is why even a baby can “sign up” for their own library card (with their parents’ help)!

One of the biggest “basics” that a public library has for our early learners is storytime. Storytime exposes children to language, vocabulary and storytelling, which are all crucial components of early literacy skills. Hearing stories read aloud helps children develop phonological awareness, understanding of narrative structure, and recognition of letters and words. Hearing a variety of words and sentences during storytime lays the foundation for future language and literacy development.

Storytimes also help prepare children for school. In a way, storytime is a looser structure of a classroom, requiring children to learn listening skills, increase their attention spans, and discover appropriate times to talk or sing in a safe learning environment.

A love of reading and learning can begin young with a storytime attendee thanks to an early association of joy with books among peers. Because children can associate storytime with fun and excitement, they will likely be motivated to engage with books independently.

There’s no doubt that attending storytime together strengthens a bond between a parent or caregiver and a child, and helps develop plenty of socialization opportunities. The shared experience encourages positive interactions and gives a structured, yet informal, setting for kids to interact with others in a similar age group. Taking turns, sharing and participating in group activities are all valuable life lessons learned within the context of a library storytime.

At the Delaware County District Library, we have 13 different opportunities every week for caregivers and their littles to join us at a storytime! Through the library’s easy, online calendar, storytimes can be sorted by branch, age group, or date. For example, the Delaware Main Library has family storytime (for ages birth through 6) on Monday evenings, baby storytime (for birth through 24 months) on Tuesday mornings, toddler storytimes (for ages 2 through 4) on Wednesday mornings, and preschool storytimes (for ages 4 through 6) on Friday mornings. Caregivers and parents are an essential part of the learning process, and everyone will participate in the full thirty-minute storytime. Check out the online calendar to see what fits with your family’s schedule.

Three times a year our youth services librarians and library specialists take a short break from storytime to help them prepare for upcoming seasons of fun at the library. This year, our storytimes will take a break from May 6 through May 27 to help our youth services staff get everything ready for the upcoming Summer Reading Club! Storytimes will resume again after Memorial Day, but if families find themselves missing the library in the meantime, they can always visit our children’s section and create their own storytime, or visit the library’s Storytime Anytime page at www.delawarelibrary.org/storytime-anytime. We’ve got some of our favorite videos posted, and links to the library’s YouTube page where you can find even more.

As part of the library’s ongoing effort to help prepare children for school, we have developed a Kindergarten readiness campaign that features our very own library mascot – Percy! Together with Percy, preschoolers will explore the alphabet one letter at a time. The 26-week email series goes step-by-step from A to Z, introducing kids to each letter of the alphabet, core learning concepts – like colors, numbers, and shapes – and “soft” skills to help kids succeed in school – like zipping a coat or raising hands. Each week’s email kicks off with a fun video from a DCDL staff member introducing the letter’s sound, shape, and a fun animal drawing to go with the letter. Sign your child up at www.delawarelibrary.org/kindergarten-readiness.

We love seeing families in the library, and we can’t wait to see (and hear) your little ones the next time you stop by for a visit!

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at www.delawarelibrary.org or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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