Published: Sep 01, 2012 05:00 PM
Modified: Sep 01, 2012 05:30 PM
With a new school year beginning, Wake County libraries will debut their revamped childrens programming this week, more than doubling the hours of storytime available at 18 locations throughout the county.
Childrens librarians will offer 150 weekly events for young children, up from 60 in the past. From babies to 5-year-olds, the goal is to prepare children for elementary school.
What it focuses on is getting children ready to read when they start kindergarten, said Ann Burlingame, deputy director of the library system.
The new storytime programs are based on national standards called Every Child Ready to Read. The guidelines from the American Library Association focus on five skills: talking, singing, reading, writing and playing.
It gets children learning and listening, Burlingame said. Its a very fun environment.
The libraries will have five types of storytime, each targeted at a different age range. Not even newborns are left out; they can attend the 20-minute baby storytime. To hold the youngest visitors attention, the programs mix stories, music and rhyme.
Its tying movement into specific rhymes, said Rita Bhattacharyya, a childrens librarian at Southeast Regional in Garner.
Once the children start walking, theyre invited to a 20-minute toddler storytime until they turn 3. In our toddler times, its a little longer, and it includes more books, Bhattacharyya said. Its not only educational, its having fun.
A 30-minute preschool storytime serves ages 3 to 5, focusing on vocabulary and preparing kids for school. Family storytimes, designed for parents with children of different ages, are open to kids 5 and younger. And a weekly Storytime and More adds a hands-on activity for preschoolers.
Similar programs have been offered in the past, but each library branch took a different approach. In the past, our programs were not at all consistent, Burlingame said.
Each childrens department had been staffed differently, too. To add programming without adding positions, Burlingame said the administration has reallocated jobs so each regional branch has four childrens librarians and each community library has at least one.
In the small community libraries, the manager was the only one who was in the library, she said.
In the new programs, librarians also discuss with parents how to further the educational experiences at home.
We encourage them to think of things that their children enjoy, Bhattacharyya said. It doesnt need to be expensive.
Nor are the librarys activities theyre still free.