Saturday, June 30, 2012

Story Time... It's More Than Just Stories!

 I recently had a parent ask me why they should bring their child to a library story time. After gushing about the benefits, I decided it would make a good blog post. Because, sure, on the surface, it may look like typical story times are all fun and games but look deeper and you’ll see that the benefits are serious stuff.  Amidst the excitement, story time is actually a wonderful skill building activity for children.  Sharing stories, conversing, socializing, singing songs, counting and rhyming are all excellent ways to build the foundation for skills children will need later on. 

According to research there are six pre-reading skills that children must develop in order to learn to read. 
 Print Awareness- Knowing how to handle a book and noticing the printed word.
Letter knowledge- Knowing their names, sounds and recognizing letters everywhere.
Vocabulary- Simply knowing the names of things.
Phonological Awareness- Being able to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words.
Narrative Skills- Being able to describe events and tell stories.
Print Motivation- Being interested in and enjoying books.

Each week my programs include activities which help strengthen particular skills.  Story time participants learn how to handle a book by watching me hold the book and point to the words as I read (print awareness).  They start recognizing letters and sounds as they are exposed to them week after week (letter knowledge).  They build vocabulary by socializing and interacting with other children, by hearing new words in stories and experiencing new things. Children have fun and work on their motor skills as we sing and dance our mornings away!   In addition, by singing we break words down into manageable pieces (phonological awareness). Try it now!  The It-sy, Bit-sy Spi-der went up the wa-ter spout.

I engage children in conversation about the books we are reading. By asking a child to predict what might happen in a story or having them retell parts of a story they are developing narrative skills.  I also allow plenty of time for self expression.  Often books we read will spark a memory and children will want to tell a personal story.  The give and take in a group setting helps children learn persistence, cooperation and also how to communicate their wants and needs verbally.  

Children who attend library story times are exposed to fun and engaging activities. By making learning a fun experience, I believe I am encouraging a life long love of stories and the written word (print motivation). I think perhaps that parent got more than they bargained for when they asked that question, but it was a nice reminder to me that while I look forward to story time and have a blast doing it, it is important work that we are doing!  Goooooooo Librarians!


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