Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Truth Behind Bedtime Stories

Read Dr. Perri Klass' post on the New York Times "Well" blog about Bedtime Stories for Young Children.  In this piece, she identifies how "Two new studies examine the unexpectedly complex interactions that happen when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book." 

Image Source: Flickr
Thinking about library storytimes, consider how you communicate to families why reading with children makes a difference in brain development. Take a nod from this quote in the article: “I think that we’ve learned that early reading is more than just a nice thing to do with kids,” Dr. Hutton said. “It really does have a very important role to play in building brain networks that will serve children long-term as they transition from verbal to reading.”

Access the blog post here: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/17/bedtime-stories-for-young-brains/

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Five Little Ducks

Guest post by Sarah Cournoyer

Five Little Ducks Flannelplay
Five Little Ducks Flannelplay (author's image)
I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the Growing Wisconsin Readers EarlyLiteracy Coursework with Saroj Ghoting that took place over fall and winter 2014/15. One of the things I was inspired to do as a result is to create more flannelplays and related handouts and crafts that families can take home after storytime to extend the early literacy activities that we did together in Storytime.

The first one of these I created was Five Little Ducks. I made a coloring template with a mother duck and five ducklings using clipart. Then I used a paper plate folded in half and decorated with a pond on one side and a hill on the other.

Five Little Ducks Extension Activity
Five Little Ducks Extension Activity (author's image)
Adding numbers to the ducklings can contribute to number literacy. One of the children demonstrated that he knew how to count backwards from 5 to 1 while making his little ducks and totally surprised his mom who didn’t know he knew how. I also took this extension activity to a session I presented to childcare providers called Fun with Flannel. They appreciated the ease of making it and the fact that all of the children could have their own prop for the story/song.

Written by:
Sarah Cournoyer, Assistant Director & Children’s Librarian
Horicon Public Library, Horicon, WI

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Submit a Statement of Interest for Supercharged Storytimes

Wisconsin public library staff members are invited to join the Supercharged Storytimes community! 

Are you passionate about early literacy at public libraries, interested in enhancing your storytime planning and delivery practice for children five and under, and eager to work collaboratively online with your peers from other libraries to share ideas and experiences that build a growing community of practice? If so, please review the Participant Overview and consider submitting a Statement of Interest for this opportunity by Friday, September 11, 2015 at 5 PM local time. Any questions about this opportunity can be directed to Tessa Michaelson Schmidt, at tessa.schmidt@dpi.wi.gov. Please share this opportunity with your network.

Over 80 staff from public libraries in Washington State participated in the first Supercharged Storytimes online orientation in the spring of 2015. Now, the Supercharged Storytimes program is being offered to public library staff in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina and Wisconsin free of charge, through partnership with OCLC.

Supercharged Storytimes provides hands-on guidance to engage children in storytime, using tools and approaches that have been confirmed by University of Washington iSchool’s Project VIEWS2 research to directly support development of early literacy skills in children 0-5 years old.

The program will introduce public library participants to these methods through a multi-week online orientation, beginning Monday, October 5, 2015, and will continue to support them through an online community as they implement Supercharged Storytimes in their library during the orientation period and beyond (Details on the orientation schedule are included in the Participant Overview.)

The Supercharged Storytimes online community hosted by OCLC’s WebJunction will offer a place for participants to discuss their experience and exchange ideas, tips, and resources related to Supercharged Storytimes.   Participants benefit from this peer-to-peer support, which helps them to grow as early literacy influencers in their communities. Submit your Statement of Interest today!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Come Together Right Now

Guest post by Georgia Jones

It began with a truck ride. Since the city car was being used, a truck from the streets department was my transportation to the Growing Wisconsin Readers workshop in Hayward in the fall of 2013. Tessa rolled out the program, handed out brochures and posters and sent us back to our communities to plant the seeds. She had me at “early literacy”.

I started with a phone call to make a presentation at the ministerial monthly meeting. Connecting with the churches, which included the Salvation Army who run the shelter in New Richmond, was a great start. They were all eager to share the information with their congregations and provided me with other community contacts. My focus has been to reach all of the families that have small children, live in poverty, and do not use the library.

"Color" theme kit
"Color" theme kit (author's image)
A mini-grant from Growing Wisconsin Readers allowed me to reach out to Head Start, WIC, St. Croix County Family Services, the Five Loaves Food Shelf, and Grace Place shelter. I made valuable connections with people who are passionate about the value of early literacy and welcomed the ideas and information I could share with them to enhance their programs. I received an LSTA grant to create literacy kits, give out books at WIC, and host a workshop for EC educators with Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen.

Head Start was thrilled to accept a wee free library that I keep stocked with books for kiddos to take home and share with their families. I was also able to purchase materials to put together some Early Literacy Kits for Head Start to keep and share with families when they did home visits. The kits are a sneaky way to get a piece of the library into homes of those who are not familiar with the library. The kits have a few guided activities for families to share and become familiarized with activities that support early literacy.
Kiwanis members at the Kick Off of 1000 Books
Kiwanis members at the Kick Off
of 1000 Books (author's image)

The New Richmond Kiwanis, along with our Friends group, help sponsor our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. They have been activity involved and understand and support the importance of this initiative.

WIC visits happen every month on clinic day. We bring a little bit of the library along each month, to share with families as they wait for their appointment. This has been one of the most valuable places to share some of the great apps from the New Media Training. The iPad is an easy way to open conversations with children and their parents about media diets and choosing great apps. One of the first visits I made to WIC I was handing out Growing Wisconsin Readers brochures and wondered why I was receiving such strange looks from people as I handed them out. Later, I realized, they were ALL in Spanish!
1000 Books mural
1000 Books mural (author's image)

A bus trip (coordinated by Indianhead Federated Library System) to visit play spaces in the Twin Cities libraries was inspiring. After presenting a request for funding part of a new library play space, the Friends group was excited to hear about the importance of play and were happy to contribute. The children are thrilled to use this new space!

Early literacy high-fives!
Early literacy high-fives!
(author's image)
The New Media Training has provided resources and information to share with teachers at my monthly Early Childhood Special Needs classroom visits. The children respond well to the iPad apps that I have integrated into my visits. When I entered the classroom for my last visit of the school year there were several new students. One of them was screaming. The teacher said he had been screaming every day since he started in the classroom and would probably continue for several more days. I remembered the Byron Barton “Trucks” app and quickly brought it up on the iPad. The child quit screaming and was interested for the remainder of my visit!

It has all come together and I appreciate every single piece of Growing Wisconsin Readers and all of the valuable seeds it planted.

Written by:
Georgia Jones, Youth Services Librarian
C.A. Friday Memorial Library, New Richmond, WI

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Appleton Ready to Read (Part 2 of 2)

Guest post by Tanya Misselt, originally written in July 2013 as a resource for the Growing Wisconsin Readers website.

This post is a continuation from Appleton Ready to Read (Part 1 of 2)

Hmong families visit the Appleton Public Library
Hmong families visit the Appleton Public Library
(author's image)
Community Partners
Hmong families with children from birth to age five are referred to Yee Vue by the Appleton Area School District (AASD), Outagamie County Birth – 3 Early Childhood Early Intervention Program and the Fox Cities Literacy Council.   Yee is asked to help with AASD  3-5 year-old developmental screening of children whose primary language at home is Hmong.  Yee also refers families to take advantage of this screening opportunity.  Through this referral network and community trust, Yee has been able to help children get placed in Title 1 programs, Head Start and Even Start.

What we have learned?
The Hmong language has only been a written language since the 1950s.  Many Hmong people do not read Hmong.  Although providing signage and flyers in Hmong is a nice gesture, it is often not a reliable tool for communication.  The multi-generational experience of reading books to our children while they sit on our lap is not the multi-generational experience of the Hmong people.   Also, I am told that there is no history of Hmong nursery rhymes and little if any history of children’s music in the Hmong language.   We have met with Hmong parents who are illiterate.  Some young Hmong parents, who attended high school in our area, are not confident readers.  Many of the families that we have worked with have few to no children’s books in their home.   Board books, wordless picture books, picture books with companion CDs and beginner readers with companion CDs in our collections have been very helpful for these parents.
Early literacy activities led by Yee Vue, APL's  Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Early literacy activities led by Yee Vue, APL's
Hmong Family Outreach Specialist (author's image)

Some young Hmong parents do not speak English or lack confidence in speaking English.   Some Hmong children who speak both Hmong and English at home, lack the depth of one language that helps them be prepared for kindergarten.  Several experts tell me that it is more important that children entering kindergarten have depth of language in their primary language than lack depth of language in two languages.

What’s next?
While we are completing our LSTA grant year, we are also looking for funding to sustain this program and build a Hispanic Outreach Program with a half-time Hispanic Family Outreach Specialist.  We also seek to add a strong university backed research component to our work.  These are big ideas, but with the strong support of our Library Director, Library Board, Friends of the Appleton Public Library and many others, I believe that we can make a difference in our community.

Written by:
Tanya Misselt, 
Children’s Services Supervisor

Note--For more information about working with the Hmong community, or general library outreach to cultural groups, view the recording of Yee Vue's webinar "Library Services for the Hmong Community" hosted by UW Madison's School of Library and Information Studies

Institute of Museum and Library Services logo
The Appleton Ready to Read project was made possible by a grant from
the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Supercharged Storytimes Coming to Wisconsin

Supercharged Storytimes logoThis fall, up to 100 Wisconsin public library youth services staff will have the opportunity to participate in a multi-week online professional development opportunity called Supercharged Storytimes. Read all about it on the Wisconsin Libraries for Everyone blog, and stay tuned for more details.  This is an opportunity you won't want to miss!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Appleton Ready to Read (Part 1 of 2)

Guest post by Tanya Misselt, originally written in July 2013 as a resource for the Growing Wisconsin Readers website.

Appleton Public Library logoIt was pure serendipity in the summer of 2012, when Yee Vue, a graduate student in Library and Information Science from UW-Madison wanted an internship with the Appleton Public Library.   Yee was looking for a library summer project that would involve working with the local Hmong community.   She accepted our challenge to bring the American Library Association initiative of Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR 2) to our local Hmong community.  This journey which began in the small office area of Children’s Services was incredibly timely and completely unexpected.

Yee Vue, APL's Hmong Family
Outreach Specialist
Before Yee came into our lives, I had been struggling with how Children’s Services should respond to a  2011 Fox Cities Life Study showing a need to support education in light of declining third grade reading scores.  Appleton Area School District WKCE scores indicated that our Asian, Hispanic, limited English speaking and economically disadvantaged children were more likely to score below proficient in reading than their peers.  We knew that scientific research was pointing to the importance of early childhood brain development and the ALA was heavily promoting ECRR 2. We also knew that the children who were most likely to struggle with reading were also the children of parents who our library profession has tagged “the elusive non-user”.   My mind was swimming with more questions than answers.  It was with this backdrop that serendipity happened.  Yee came to us with the energy, commitment, education, language, cultural experience and local connections to make a difference in our community and she has been making a difference here ever since.

During the summer of 2012, Yee began making home visits to Hmong families who lived in the city of Appleton and who had children from birth to 5 years-old.  She was armed with a PowerPoint presentation about ECRR2 and gift bags of books, crayons and more that had been donated from Friends of the Appleton Public Library.  Since Yee was from an established local Hmong family, she did not have trouble making connections.  When the summer was over, we knew that we had just witnessed something extraordinary and we didn’t want to see it end.  We needed something more than serendipity.  We needed a plan.

In the early months of 2013, screams of excitement could be heard outside my office when I got the call that we had been awarded a $15,000 LSTA grant to continue to develop this initiative.  Yee, having just finished her MLIS, was able to return to us to continue her work.   We named this initiative Appleton Ready to Read and Yee was given the title of Hmong Family Outreach Specialist.  Yee’s job is to introduce Appleton’s Hmong parents of children birth to five years-old, to the Appleton Public Library and ECRR2 by scheduling three visits per family.
Home visits conducted by APL's Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
Home visits conducted by APL's Hmong Family Outreach Specialist
(author's image)
Visit #1
This is a home visit where Yee introduces parents to ECRR2, concentrating on the practice of reading and writing.  Children are given books, crayons and coloring books, donated by the LSTA grant and Friends of the Appleton Public Library.  Many of our library staff have benefited from the experience of joining Yee on home visits.

Visit #2
This visit is to the library.  Parents and children are given a tour of Children’s Services, directed to our different collections and shown how to select age appropriate material.  Families who do not have a library card and would like one are assisted with obtaining one.  Parents and children are instructed in the use of our self-checkout system.  During this visit parents also learn about the important practice of singing and talking with their children.  Children are given a nursery rhyme music CD, donated by the UW-Oshkosh Hmong Student’s Group.

Visit #3
This visit is actually to a library program, presented by Yee, called Play and Learn – Hmong Edition.  This is a one hour program involving a short storytime, singing and nursery rhymes and then the parents and children enjoy playing at different stations.   During this visit parents learn about the important practice of play.  The other 4 practices are reinforced and skills are developed.   Parents are instructed on different ways to play at home without expensive toys.  Children also enjoy playing with toys at the library that they may not have access to at home.   Parents are welcome to continue to attend this regularly scheduled program and/or attend other programs at our library.  Yee offers to go with families to other programs to help them meet other staff and join in other activities.

Stay tuned for more details about Appleton Public Library's outreach efforts in a second blog post. 

Written by:
Tanya Misselt, 
Children’s Services Supervisor

Institute of Museum and Library Services logo
The Appleton Ready to Read project was made possible by a grant from
the Institute of Museum and Library Services.