Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Early Literacy in Eagle River--Progress and Challenges

Guest post by Pat Lamon

Hi!  I am the Children's Resources librarian and cataloger at the Olson Library. I was very honored to be able to participate in three different classes this past year through the generosity of LSTA -funded projects offered by the Public Library Development Team at DPI.

Online learning
Online learning (Pixabay)
One of the classes actually two classes--the Online Early Literacy Coursework with Saroj Ghoting.  I took Early Literacy and Books: Making the Connection and Early Literacy Enhanced Storytimes: Adults as Partners in Developing Language and Literacy. I thoroughly enjoyed the two classes although I am more of an “in-classroom” type of learner than I am a “long-distance through a computer” learner.  However, in both classes, I managed to acclimate to the programs and to pass each of the classes.  I learned a lot about how kids learn and about how things I did and could do would make a difference in helping the kids I encounter at Story Times, other library times and even outside the library times to be ready to read.  The information I learned complemented the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program which we put in place at Olson Library in mid-January 2015.

Grant money
Grant money (Pixabay)
The third class I participated in was Sharon Grover's Early Literacy Community Development Course.  This class helped me to analyze an early literacy need in my community and to formulate a project to help address the need.  We have been awarded a $200 grant and are in the process of developing welcome bags for newborn community members.  This has dovetailed very well with the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.  I still have work to do on this project but am enjoying the challenge of the work and the expected success.

Distractions (Pixabay)
I have noticed in our Kids' Area in the library that there are indeed parents and caregivers who will be persons not giving their children/charges the opportunity to hear millions of words before
kindergarten.  For example, one parent sits in the Kids' Area and lets his little boy run wild while he buries his nose in either the newspaper or his cell phone.  The little boy tries to communicate and get a response from his dad but only gets monosyllables in reply and no initiated play.  I feel frustrated with this situation and have not been able to do much about it.  I try talking to the little boy and using rich language and asking questions on numbers and colors and what people or animals in books are doing, but it is a one-way thing.  Dad doesn't participate.  Unfortunately, they work when we have story times so I can't use that time to encourage more participation.  They have managed to at least read 25 books since signing up for the 1000 Books a few months ago.  We gave an incentive after the first 25, and once that was given, no further progress has been turned in.  This is my challenge!!!

As an additional comment, I have added chalkboards and sidewalk chalk to the Kids’ Area, plus doing much more flannel board and magnetic board things.  I also have a large bag of Legos (the “small or adult” size) plus several sizes of Mega-Blocks in the Area and these are heavily used. I loved the ideas found in the classes and am working on making progress while dealing with challenges.

Written by:
Pat Lamon, Children's Resources Librarian and Cataloger

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What’s Cooking in the Edgerton Library?

Guest post by Kirsten Almo

Junior chefs at work
Junior chefs at work (author's image)
If you make a visit to the children’s area in the Edgerton Public Library, you will most likely find a young chef at work!  Slicing fruits and vegetables, pouring cups of milk, or serving a sandwich to another child, our youngest patrons are busy!  The addition of a toy kitchen has been a huge hit with our children and their caregivers.

Child and caregiver interacation
Child and caregiver interaction
(author's image)
Using funds from a Growing Wisconsin Readers mini-grant through the Early Literacy Community Development course, I was able to purchase a toy kitchen, dishes, and toy food for our children’s area.  Many families in our small, rural community visit the library to not only check out reading materials, but to have a place to play with their children.  The play area promotes cooperation among “chefs,” conversation between “chefs and eaters,” and plenty of opportunity for creative play.  Our dishes in primary colors are used for sorting by color and shape.

Menu ideas
Menu ideas (author's image)
The toy kitchen has provided a great way for caregivers to interact with their children while also giving adults time to browse and collect materials to take home with them.  While the toy kitchen was purchased with our toddler patrons in mind, many parents have told me that their older children love playing there as well. One recent morning I found the following “menu” sitting on the shelf of the kitchen!  

Future plans for our toy kitchen include pairing seasonal books with seasonal food items – for example, apples and pumpkins this fall and cookie baking this winter.

Young children learn through play and based on the number of cooks in the kitchen, there’s a lot of learning going on at the Edgerton Public Library!

Written by:
Kirsten Almo, Youth Librarian

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Saroj Ghoting Is My Personal Hero

Guest post by Tami Feuerstein

Saroj Ghoting
Saroj Ghoting,
Early Childhood Literacy Consultant
“Every Hero Has a Story” and last fall I was able to participate in the Growing Wisconsin Readers Online Early Literacy Coursework allowing me to discover a real super hero in the early literacy world, Saroj Ghoting.  Saroj was a children’s librarian for more than 35 years and is now an early childhood literacy consultant and co-author of resource books for early literacy story times.  She conducted this online training, rich with inspiring ideas, to help libraries enhance their own early literacy story times, and she showed the importance of communicating early literacy development to caregivers.

The coursework was divided into two sessions, with the first called Early Literacy and Books: Making the Connection.  This was mainly connecting the five components of early literacy; phonological awareness, print conventions and awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, and background knowledge, to the five practices in Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR2).  These practices are singing, reading, talking, playing, and writing.  The focus was to show the connection between these practices and how they support early literacy and later reading. 

Llama Llama Red Pajama,
a text used during the course.
Saroj guided course participants in how to make these connections and how critical it is to help adults understand how these activities affect their children’s early literacy development.  Babies are born learning and what they learn is up to the caring adults in their lives.  Our training assignments included readings, online presentations, and reviewing developmental milestones and brain development in infants and young children.  One assignment that I found very rewarding was how to take one book and use it to focus separately on each of the five early literacy components for a story time.  Activities were required for the age group of 2-3 year olds, as well as 4-5 year olds. It was enlightening to see how one book could be used in many different ways to model for adults.  In isolating the early literacy skill with supporting activities adults are not overwhelmed, and are more apt to do them at home.

The connections made between the class participants in the online forum postings were also valuable.  Participants represented libraries from all areas of Wisconsin with a variety of responsibilities in each library setting.  It was wonderful to share ideas on many different levels and topics. 

The second session of the training was held in the winter and called Early Literacy Enhanced Story Times: Adults as Partners in Developing Language and Literacy.  This class was about formally incorporating early literacy asides, or parent tips, into story times.  These asides should be short and focused on one early literacy component, and are intentionally directed at adults to explain how they can help their children develop the foundation for later reading.  We learned about the three different kinds of asides: Explain, Example, and Empower.  These asides are made more effective by providing a research-based reason an activity in story time, or a practice such as singing, reading, playing, writing, or talking, supports an early literacy component.  This part of the training was rich in resources, suggestions, and information in planning and carrying out enhanced story times. 

Early Literacy Begins With You
(Library of Virginia)
The rewards of witnessing the “aha” moments when applying these asides in my story times are inspiring.  To see a parent’s relief as they realize a baby’s natural mouthing or batting at the pages of a board book is okay, and supports the early literacy component of Print Conventions and Awareness is priceless. Or the connection a parent makes as they hear that pointing out shapes in books as they read supports the early literacy skill of Letter Knowledge, as their child is distinguishing how the shapes are alike and different.  It is through these valuable connections in our early literacy enhanced story times that we can communicate to parents that laying a foundation for later reading is a process that takes years of nurturing. 

Saroj Ghoting is an early literacy super hero in my opinion, and this training provided a spark to the participants involved to build on the enthusiasm of getting young children ready to read. 

Written by: 
Tami Feuerstein, Early Literacy Specialist
Lester Public Library, Two Rivers, Wisconsin 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Media Mentorship Resources from ALSC

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has recently developed and promoted several professional resources to support librarians as they explore the role of new media in libraries and with families. Wisconsin public librarians are highly encouraged to read and review the white paper.  A free webinar will take place on July 21--register now to secure your spot!

The information below comes from the ALSC Media Mentorship webpage:

White Paper

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth [PDF – 4-color, designed 3.67MB]
Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth [PDF – Black & White, 353KB]
This paper, written for the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) by Cen Campbell, Claudia Haines, Amy Koester, and Dorothy Stoltz; was adopted by the ALSC Board of Directors on March 11, 2015.

Professional Development

Media Mentorship in Libraries Serving Youth: A Primer - Registration now open!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015: 11 am Central, 12 pm Eastern
FREE webinar- open to the public
Instructor: Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Coordinator, Skokie (IL) Public Library

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Rhinelander District Library Launches a Pre-Kindergarten Reading Program

Guest post by Denise Chojnacki

The first child to sign up for RDL's 1000 Books program
The first child to sign up for
RDL's 1000 Books program
(author's image)
Rhinelander District Library made the news when it launched its 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program (see below for the video from WJFW TV-12). Starting our program developed from my participation in the Growing Wisconsin Readers Early Literacy Community Development Course. Our library received a mini-grant resulting from my final project for this course. Pictured here is our first patron to sign up, and her excitement is evident!

Denise Chojnacki, Associate Librarian, Webmaster
Rhinelander District Library

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Gourmet Meal of Early Literacy Information!

Guest post by Linda DeCramer

Words cannot convey the import and impact of the two online courses I took as part of the Growing Wisconsin Readers initiative - EarlyLiteracy and Books, and Early Literacy Enhanced Storytimes. The instructor, Saroj Ghoting is wonderful and the course content was absolutely transformative in terms of how I approach storytime planning and share early literacy information with caregivers!

A gourmet meal (Pixabay)
Prior to the courses, I was aware of the 5 practices – read, write, sing, play, talk – used to reinforce early literacy components. But, it was as if I had “snacked” on tidbits of info, and did not purposefully incorporate it within the storytime context. Post courses, it’s as if I partook of a carefully crafted, 5 course meal designed to optimally integrate knowledge of child development and early literacy research with the early literacy components AND the 5 practices.

I feel newly empowered to make a difference! I am infinitely more confident in choosing content for my programs, and sharing early literacy info with caregivers. This is truly a gift to be shared and partaken of collectively. 

Three course highlights:

1. The final goal of the combined courses is to train the presenter in offering early literacy information via “asides” during storytime. I’ve notice that adults in attendance are in turn empowered and excited about the importance of their role as EARLY LITERACY NURTURER! Many parents attending storytime have opted to focus on raising their children over money or career. By incorporating early literacy information and reinforcing best practices, storytime is now a learning, growing experience for adult, as well as child, and serves to affirm and legitimize their choice and role.

2. Conversation and camaraderie among attendees: Sometimes, an “aside” will spark a caregiver to share with the group an exciting moment or development, which illustrates the concept, with their child. A retired educator, who brings her grandsons, occasionally has additional info or knowledge, from her years as a teacher, to share. Despite days filled with very little adult conversation, tears, diapers, messes and melt downs, sharing in this way helps everyone to believe that what they are doing is important!

A Storywalk discussion (author's image)
3. Children in motion can listen very well to a story. One of the video clips viewed as part of the Early Literacy and Books course involved a caregiver reading to a child engrossed in play. It appeared the child barely noticed the reader. At intervals, the adult stopped to ask a question about the book. The seemingly unattentive child would immediately answer correctly! Often baby storytime is a bit chaotic and caregivers express concern for their active child who will just not sit for a book, here, there or anywhere. In the past I would have offered tips and ideas for maximizing the child’s time and attention to a book or storytime. While this is still a worthy goal, now I can assure them that activity and listening are not mutually exclusive!

Written by:
Linda DeCramer, Children’s Librarian

Monday, June 29, 2015

Waukesha County Federated Library System Partners with UWM to Create "1000 Books" App

The article below was originally published on Today@UWM on June 12, 2015 by Kathy Quirk, featuring a photograph by Troye Fox. The article was shared by Angela Meyers, the Coordinator of Youth and Special Needs Services at Waukesha County Federated Library System.

UWM creates free app to help families and libraries encourage children to read

Natasha Heinlein, of Muskego, uses the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app developed at UWM to track books read to her son, Eli.
Natasha Heinlein, of Muskego, uses the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app developed at UWM to track books read to her son, Eli. (UWM Photo/Troye Fox)
Read the “Poky Little Puppy” to your toddler 58 times?
Now there’s an app to track that.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Waukesha County public libraries collaborated on a free app for parents to track books read to their children. The app supports the popular “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program offered by libraries nationwide.
The goal is to encourage parents and grandparents to read to children, fostering literacy later on. (See for more information.)
Until now, parents have had to log the books read to their children with pen and paper, turning in their reports to the libraries where children earn rewards, said Angela Meyers, coordinator of youth and special needs services for the Waukesha County Federated Library System. She thought the process could be simpler.
“Keeping track of the folder with the reading logs was sometimes a hassle, so we wanted to take a paper model and make it digital,” Meyers said.
The library didn’t have the money or staff to develop a smartphone app, so Meyers, who earned her master’s degree at UWM, turned to the university’s App Brewery, which helps students fine tune their skills by working with real-life clients from nonprofits. While the School of Information Studies sponsors the brewery, participating students come from a variety of academic programs that prepare them for careers in information studies and technology, graphic design and computer sciences.
“We would not have been able to do this without the help from UWM and the App Brewery,” Meyers said.
The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app already has 316 users and 412 children after a “soft launch” this spring, Meyers said. While the app is set up to work with the Waukesha County libraries’ program, families in other areas can use it.
“We’ve had downloads from Canada and Australia,” Meyers said. “When it was mentioned on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Facebook site, it got 60 ‘likes’ the first night.”
The app is available for both iPhones and Androids.
“It’s awesome,” said Natasha Heinlein, of Muskego, who’s been using the app as she reads to her 3-year-old son, Eli, and 18-month-old daughter, Evy. “I love it, and it’s really easy to use. It’s a much more convenient than remembering to write down every book.”
The app allows librarians to catch families up by transferring books from the paper log if they have children like Eli, who has already read more than 300 books with his mom. His favorites include “I Love You Stinky Face,” “Wacky Wednesday,” “Fraidy Zoo,” and anything about dinosaurs.
“I like to read to him, and I know he’s learning a lot,” Heinlein said. “Sometimes we just enjoy laughing together about silly stories.”
The app allows parents to set up profiles for each of their children, App Brewery Manager Dustin Hahn said. Grandparents, aunts, babysitters, siblings and others who read to a child also can sign into the child’s profile from their smartphones and log books. Entering a book can be as easy as scanning the barcode on it.
The Waukesha County libraries’ app is one of two including “1000 Books” in its name. Meyers said the advantage of the app developed at UWM is that it incorporates feedback from users and is supported by the library system.
“Our library patrons can go into the library to have a conversation about the 1000 Books program and talk to their librarian about the app, and get incentives along the way,” she said. “I can’t think of one other app where you can actually walk in or call someone to give feedback. I think that’s kind of neat.”