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