Thursday, October 30, 2014

Good Things Come in Threes!

Pixabay image
Sometimes the stars align and a new program seems destined to happen. Here, at the Pewaukee Public Library, we were fortunate to have this happen in the spring of 2014. 

1. On March 21st,  I attended the Growing Wisconsin Readers Early Literacy Symposium and was, once again, inspired by the fabulous DipeshNavsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD and his great talk about Reach Out and Read.  

2. The next day, I represented the library at the Community Fair organized by the Pewaukee Parent-Teacher Organization.  We have participated in this great event for several years because it is a wonderful way to reach new residents and parents that have overlooked library services.  At the Community Fair, I met Dr. Stephanie Whitt, of the Pewaukee Pediatrics office.  I mentioned that I had just been to a great early literacy event, asked her if she knew about Reach Out and Read, and that I thought maybe we could develop some sort of partnership.  She was enthusiastic about the possibility.  

3. Sydney D., a terrific teen patron, had also stopped by the library that spring to discuss doing a volunteer project with the library for her Silver Award.   Until then, we hadn’t been able to come up with a project that fit the requirements for the Silver Award, but the idea of a partnership with the Pediatrics office to promote early literacy had promise. 

Sydney, Teen Volunteer, at Pewaukee Pediatrics
I then created a partnership plan that outlined the duties of each of the partners: The Pewaukee Public Library, the Pewaukee Pediatrics Group, and volunteer Sydney. Pewaukee Pediatrics physicians would share early literacy information with parents and caregivers during routine visits, using the Reach Out and Read site as a guide.  The pediatric office also provides an area to house a selection of books, comfortable chairs, and a child-sized table. 

The Library provides Pewaukee Pediatrics with a set of approximately 25 new, or like new, books for families to share in the waiting area.  For health reasons, and to keep the selection appealing, the books are replaced regularly.  These books are obtained via donations to the Friends of the Pewaukee Public Library or bought with program funds from Scholastic FACE.  We place stickers on the books to identify them as provided by the library and offer literacy tips. Growing Wisconsin Readers Early Literacy brochures and library program information are also put on display.

Sydney, our volunteer, is responsible for sorting out books to take, placing stickers on the books, and delivering them to the pediatrics office.  She is also in charge of removing the used books and making sure the brochures are filled and up-to-date.  Sydney is so enthusiastic about the partnership that she is in the process of contacting other area pediatric offices to extend the program. 

I am looking forward to talking with the Pediatric staff early next year to hear if they have heard any feedback about the books and resources.  Placing the books in the waiting room seems like a small step but if just a few parents learn more about early literacy and the library, it will create a definite impact.

Jenny Wegener, Head of Youth Services
Pewaukee Public Library, Pewaukee WI

Image of Sydney provided by the author

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Growing a Reading Oak Tree in Thorp

A 1000 Books Graduate in Thorp, WI
The Thorp Public Library, located in Thorp, WI, about 45 miles east of Eau Claire, was fortunate to receive a Growing Wisconsin Readers Mini-Grant in 2013 to implement a 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program.  This was an exciting prospect since I had heard a lot of great things about this type of program, but was never able to get one started before. I had Alice Schuelke, our Library Assistant at the time, create a theme and come up with some guidelines based on what our research found to be successful at other libraries.”  

In keeping with the ‘Growing’ idea, we decided to hang a large tree in the library for the kids to add leaves for every 100 books they read – a Reading Oak Tree. We created a bookmark that has 100 acorns on it so that every time a book is read, the children can color in an acorn and when it is filled up, they bring in the bookmark for another one and then add a leaf to our tree.  With various prizes and other small incentives along the way, it keeps the kids and parents motivated to reach 1,000 books.

We also put together a two page handout for parents that include "Easy Steps for Participation" and
The Thorp Public Library Reading Oak
"A Frequently Asked Questions" page.  The hardest part of this project was organizing the supplies so that whichever staff member was at the front desk could help a patron get their next leaf or bookmark, and also record progress and hand out appropriate incentives.  After a few tries, we finally have a system that is easy for tracking and for keeping things organized.

And after only one year, our Reading Oak Tree has grown and sprouted lots of new leaves!  We had one little girl reach 1,000 Books already and she had a big smile on her face when she got her certificate and picture in the local newspaper.  With 35 kids signed up so far we hope to keep our tree growing with lots of new leaves, and many more participants from around the community. This was a fun project that we already see the kids enjoying and benefiting from, and I’m grateful for the grant that allowed us to purchase supplies and get this program off the ground!

Julie Beloungy, Director

Photos provided by the author

Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Giveaway Day

The Joy of a New Book (Pixabay image)
One thing that educators are always concerned about is keeping students reading during summer vacation. The Withee Public Library attempts to help students with their summer reading by giving away books at our local elementary school each spring, along with brochures about our summer library events and programs.

We purchase the books through the Scholastic Literacy Partnership, which provides low cost books to organizations that purchase the books with the intention of giving them away. Twice we have been fortunate enough to receive money from the Target Literacy Grant for this purpose and other times we’ve funded this project through the library budget or memorial donations to the library. Currently, we give books to children in kindergarten through third grade. Someday I hope we can afford to give books to all the elementary school children, right up through grade 6.

There is nothing better than carrying those boxes into the school and laying the books out on the library tables. We are the subject of stares and excited whispers. When the children finally troop into the library, we receive friendly waves and a few brave souls even talk to us, reminding us of past years’ visits and the books they or their siblings received. Another member of my staff or I read stories to the children and talk about the library. Then the children are each allowed to choose one book that they can keep forever. It reminds me of my own elementary school days when we received free books through the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) program. I still have one of those books on my shelf and although the pages are yellowed and brittle and the cover is tattered, I can’t give it up.

Book giveaway day is my favorite day of the year. I love it more than Christmas. This year our library was able to take this idea one step farther. We offered to give a book to each preschool age child attending child development days at our local school. Unfortunately, the school had already decided to do that and had purchased the books to be given away. So the library chose to supplement that by giving away an activity kit that included a library themed coloring book, a brochure about the library, stickers and, for the parents, a card with ideas on raising a reader.

Hopefully, we will have even more readers in the next group of kids coming up. 

Loralee Petersen, Director

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Early Literacy Community Outreach in Webster, WI

Connecting with the Community
Charlotte Heidel had been working as a library volunteer, bringing parenting information to local Head Starts and daycare centers.  Charlotte Heidel and I participated in the Growing Wisconsin Readers initiative.  Our children's programmer, Annette Starkite, began a literacy program in our county through Northern Waters Literacy to tutor people of all ages.  So when Charlotte passed away, we formed our Early Literacy Committee in March of 2014, in response to our growing awareness of the need in our community for children under five to be prepared for entering kindergarten.  It was hard to get going - Charlotte had been the driving force of our early literacy programming. 
Our library was a recipient of a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten LSTA grant, through Northern Waters Library Service.  As part of the grant's requirements, we planned a Book Fair and 1000 Books
If You Feed Them, They Will Come
Before Kindergarten Kickoff during Gandy Dancer Days
  - 115 books were given away with an ice cream cone and we highlighted the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, giving away information packets to all interested parents and grandparents.  

Our committee feels strongly that we need to get books into the hands of our local children.  We have devised several ways to achieve this.  Connections, our local food pantry, lets us give children's books to the children that are present at food giveaways.  The Friends of the Library donated money to buy books to give to children in the community who don't use the library.  This was our second year of presenting a storytime at the Burnett County Fair and this year we gave a book to each child that attended our storytime in the 4H building (39 books were given away.)
1000 Books Before Kindergarten Materials 
The Early Literacy Committee has also purchased books (with monies granted to them by the Friends of the Library and Operation Roundup), to give to children at four local day care centers. The group plans on four "give-aways" per year (September, January, April and July). Each bag will contain an age-appropriate book, along with a song card for the children and a card with a reading tip for the parents, along with information about our "1000 Books Before Kindergarten" efforts. The song cards and reading tips were designed by the Early Literacy Committee specifically for this purpose. We will reach approximately 90 children with these "give-aways."

I applied for an early literacy grant from LSTA.  Our target population is children in the Webster Elementary School and in Mina Copeland Head Start who are also enrolled in the Happy Kids Backpack Program.  The children participating in this backpack program receive a backpack filled with food to take home every weekend during the school year  We plan to include a book along with the food they receive so they will have access to books at home.  By partnering with the Happy Kids Backpack Program, we will be reaching another special population who will benefit from the library's influence in their lives.Sometime this fall we are hoping to start a Read to a Dog program.  We have the OK from the village and received our library board approval this month.  

October 8 is the date for the dedication of memorial wall hanging "Remembering Charlotte" in the Children's Room. The Friends of the Library commissioned  Carole Fure to design and create a quilt to remember Charlotte by. It is the hope of our committee that giving books to children will spark an interest in reading, and help them to prepare for entrance into kindergarten.  We also hope that they and their families will begin to patronize the library and use our resources to help them all grow in literacy.

Patti Meyer, Library Director, 
Larsen Family Public Library, Webster, Wisconsin

Photos provided by the author

Monday, October 20, 2014

“Responsive Programming” Early Literacy Webinar Reminder

Pixabay image
Join us for the Growing Wisconsin Readers Fall Webinar Series on Tuesday, October 21, 1:00-2:15pm.  Tomorrow’s presentation on “Responsive Programming” features the experiences of Wisconsin public librarians who have creatively and thoughtfully responded to local programming needs by:
  • Collaborating with a local non-profit to create family outreach storytimes
  • Offering language-specific storytimes
  • Increasing storytime attendance by increasing the number of storytimes offered
  • Developing age-specific storytimes

Please join us for an invaluable session about what happens when you listen to your community!

All webinars in this series will be held live, recorded, and available for free--no registration required. Webinar archives can be found under “Professional Development” on the Youth and Special Services webpage:

Access the live webinar through Blackboard Collaborate via the following link:

Attendees who need telephone audio (versus VoIP) should use the conference number: 1-877-820-7831 and enter participant passcode:  697156. 
Test your system beforehand  
Blackboard Collaborate overview video 
Blackboard Collaborate online support or phone (877) 382-2293

Friday, October 17, 2014

Early Literacy Newsflash

Pixabay image
Several important early literacy news pieces and resources have been shared recently. Below are some noteworthy headlines to check out:


  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics released a toolkit for doctors and other health-care providers that will help them talk to parents about early literacy. The toolkit, called Books Build Connections, was released Oct. 12 at the annual convention of the pediatrician's group in San Diego. It is a followup to an AAP policy statement released in June that urged doctors to encourage parents to read, talk, and sing to their children beginning at birth. (See EdWeek for more). 

Screen Time and New Media

  1. "How best to prepare kids for the digital world," an opinion piece by Heather Hopp-Bruce in the Boston Globe offers an intriguing graphic and discussion about moving "the conversation away from how much screen time to what kind of screen time."
  2. The New York Times recently asked, "Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?" Not all of the research is in since this area is constantly evolving, but a point is made that "when it comes to learning language, researchers say, no piece of technology can substitute for a live instructor — even if the child appears to be paying close attention."
  3. Little eLit released the first chapter of their book, Young Children, New Media, and Libraries, online. This first chapter, entitled “New Media in Youth Librarianship,” was written by Cen Campbell and Amy Koester. This project has been a work in progress for some time, with many contributing authors. Subsequent chapters will be released once per month, on the 15th, until all chapters have been published at At that point, the entire work will be put into a single PDF ebook document, including appendices and other additional materials.

Research Updates

  1. You may have heard of the Colorado State Library's SPELL Project -- Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries.  A new project just got started and it's called "Putting SPELL into Action."  Check out the abstract and other SPELL documents for ideas about how to identify barriers to early literacy and library use that low-income parents/caregivers of children birth-3 face and how libraries can remove/help parents overcome those barriers. 
  2. You may also have been keeping tabs on the University of Washington’s Project VIEWS2 storytime initiative.  Project VIEWS2 was conceived in response to public librarians and library directors across the state of Washington asking “how can we know whether the early literacy focus of our storytimes makes a difference for the children’s learning to read successfully?” A host of tools that support early literacy and public libraries can be found on the resources page. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Birth of Storytime Lab at Fremont Public Library

Storytime Lab Offers Experimentation
Rambunctious children, inattentive caregivers, and a 4 yr. old kindergarten teacher who said her students did not know how to hold a pencil, or write with it, resulted in the birth of storytime lab at the Fremont Public Library.

Trying New Things at Storytime Lab
The lab is open to children of all ages.  A theme is presented each time, and before the lab starts, the children try to guess what theme it is.  We pass an object in a black tie string bag and the child puts their hand in it and feels it, then guesses.  The storytime lab consist of one nonfiction book, one song or chant, and one interactive story before breaking up into lab groups.  Each child is given a check off list and pencil or crayon. The child writes their name on the list, the best they can, and takes the list with them to the 4 stations they will visit.  After completion of the task, the child checks off a box and goes to the next station.  The 4 stations consist of eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, letter/word recognition, math, and science.  
The Powers of Observation

The Magic of Microwaving
Simple instructions are numbered and read by the caregiver to the child.  If necessary, we ask the caregiver to repeat the instructions, rather than say "I'll help you".  We emphasize that this is the child's lab and they can work at their own pace. There is a lot of tweezer play, counting, sorting, measuring, writing, and creative drawing.   Science is by far the favorite station.We usually blow things up in the microwave, or make oozy substances. 

It  has become so popular that we've had school age children wanting to stay home so they can come to the lab with their little sibling and do the science experiment.  After the child finishes all 4 stations, he/she brings the checked off list to a librarian for a reward sticker.

Susan O'Leary Frick, Director

Photos supplied by the author