Thursday, September 15, 2016

Libraries are for Babies Too

As a Youth Services Librarian focused on early literacy, I hope that I can influence more parents to bring their babies to the library through promoting our baby programs and displays of baby books. If we can get some grant money, I am also hoping that we can put together some baby-friendly kits, similar to Boston County Public Library's Baby Booster Kits. These kits contain board books on early learning concepts like colors, shapes, community leaders, healthy eating, and more. They also include a music CD and a parent resource book. I think this is such an excellent idea.
Another kit I have been curious about is the Baby Brain Box created by the New Directions Institute, a program of Arizona's Children Association. Founded in 1998, their mission is to share important messages about brain development so that parents could take advantage of the critically important window of opportunity that occurs in infancy. 
These Brain Boxes are unique patented educational products for caregivers to use with children from birth to 5 1/2 years old. Each box contains activity guides and all the materials needed for adult-child interaction that encourages healthy brain development.
I did inquire about the price and they cost $2,000 for the Brain Boxes and they also provide training to staff. We unfortunately don't have that in our budget, but it is definitely a product to consider in the future if we were to have extra funds to go towards early literacy materials.
I started to think more about the perception that libraries aren't meant for babies and after doing some research, I found this wonderful article from that discusses a lot of the challenges of bringing babies and toddlers to the library. I never thought deeply about it until now, but it makes sense why some parents might find it daunting to bring their young child to the library. Parents might find it embarrassing if their toddler begins screaming and babies can be incredibly unpredictable too. Parents might also not realize that the library even has baby programs and board books specifically aimed at infants.
So what can a library do? Well there are a lot of ways that the library can make the environment more baby/toddler friendly. Not only can we have a vast array of board books and baby-friendly kits, storytimes aimed specifically at infants, we can also make changes to the environment. There are many changes that can be made to the library's play area, like creating a clean and dedicated early learning space of the library where we invite and encourage caregivers to bring their young ones. Such a space should help to contain the noise and fluster of activities which is better for all patrons. The space should also include developmentally appropriate reading materials, open ended toys that encourage creative free play, appropriate and comfortable furniture for parents, caregivers, and children to sit on (maybe even a glider for nursing mothers), and posters/signs that remind parents that this space is for them.
As I read on this article, "The Case for Making Libraries Full of Games and Toys", games and toys are an important aspect of early learning for children. "In a study with 70 six-year olds, psychologists at the University of Colorado found that the children who engaged in more free play had a 'more highly developed self-directed executive function' than those who had spent more time in 'structured activities,' that were adult-led rather than child-initiated."
This is one of the reason why I am excited to lead my Imagination Station Storytime in October. Open ended free play is very important in the lives of young children.
With regards to programming for young children, a worthy program is 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. This is an excellent program that many libraries across the world are participating in. Learn more about it here: Demco also has a lot of great resources and some are free too!:
I will be launching 1000 Books Before Kindergarten at Messenger Public Library where I work in just a few days so I am thinking A LOT about the ways in which libraries can promote early literacy practices to caregivers! Look for a blog in the next week where I will talk in detail about how the program works. :)
While I am very excited, I have already begun to notice a lot of parents don't think their babies should participate but are interested in signing their toddler or preschooler up. I noticed this with the Summer Reading Program too! It seems as though a lot of caregivers don't realize the importance of reading to children the minute they are born. I hope that I can encourage people to not just sign their 2 or 3 year old up, but their infant as well! Babies need books too. It is truly never too early to start reading to babies. Don't believe me? Check out this NPR article which presents a strong case for reading to infants, citing research and advice from pediatricians.
What do you do to promote library services to babies?

No comments:

Post a Comment