Annual Explore-a-Story program comes to Main Library

9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 4, 2023
Main Library, 304 S Main St, South Bend, IN 46601

The St. Joe County Public Library is pleased to welcome children and families to its annual Explore-a-Story program at Main Library. On Saturday, November 4, participants can immerse themselves in a story and explore their library while taking part in early literacy activities based on the book I Am You by Refiloe Moahloli. Explore-a-Story supports the Library’s goals to grow and sustain readers and spark curiosity to learn.

This year’s program focuses on the book, I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu by Refiloe Moahloli. “It is a charming story based on the Ubuntu philosophy that ‘we are all connected.’ This Explore-A-Story event is an engaging way to teach early literacy while celebrating kindness and friendship with fun activities,” said Wanda Dudley, Programming Coordinator for the library.

At this year’s Explore-a-Story, children ages 0-5 will enjoy making music, art, and participating in fun, engaging activities with Rhythm to You, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, and Children’s Museum of South Bend.

Parents and caregivers can also bring their children to a special Storytime and Babytime in the Story House. “Storytime will be a celebration of community and kindness. We will read the book I Am You, move to rhymes, sing along with the ukulele and dance with shakers & scarves. It will be a high energy experience for all,” says Sandy Francoeur, Youth Programming Specialist at the library.

View the full schedule for Explore-a-Story. 

Help your child vote for the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award

Each year, Indiana librarians nominate five picture books with high artistic quality and compelling narratives that support early literacy for the Indiana Firefly award, but it is children who ultimately decide the winner. Children ages 0-5 are encouraged to cast their vote for their favorite of these books at any of our ten locations or online.  Voting will begin May 1st and continue until July 31st.

During storytime, you may hear librarians say that reading is the single most effective way to help children get ready to learn how to read. This award takes that knowledge one step further. The Indiana Center for the Book recognizes the importance of children taking ownership of their reading by allowing children to choose what books they want to read.

However, this award is not just about providing books for children.  The purpose of this award is to encourage children, parents, and caregivers to interact with one another while reading together.  During the month of May, each of our ten branches will have a Scavenger Hunt that will give examples of how to incorporate early literacy activities with your children that relate to the Indiana Firefly Award nominees.  We hope that this inspires you to incorporate early literacy activities with your children into your daily lives.

How to Vote

Participating in the voting process is easy.

  1. To vote on paper, go to any St. Joe County Public Library location and ask for a voting form.
  2. Make sure you and your child have read all the books available, then help your child circle their favorite book on the voting form.
  3. Return the voting form to your branch. Each branch has voting boxes to make the experience even more special. If you prefer to vote online, you can go directly to the online voting form. Ballots will be accepted until July 31.

We’re excited for your children to read these great books, which touch on fun subjects such as cats, insects, and paletas! We can’t wait to see which book your children will choose!

Storytime critical for developing early literacy skills

By: Brianna Knisley

Do you ever wonder how much your young toddler is truly absorbing from the story you read? Do you ever think that reading a short story to them doesn’t make an impact on their learning? The truth is it actually does. The younger you begin reading to a child, the more beneficial it is for their early language and literacy development. A child starts to learn language before their first year of life, and learning continues to build from there through the support of their family or caretakers (ASHA, 2022). One of the easiest things that a parent can do to promote early literacy and language development is to engage in storytime with their child. Language and literacy go hand-in-hand; with a strong language foundation, literacy skills can develop earlier and enhance school readiness.

Early literacy skills begin to develop between the ages of 3 to 5 years, which is known as the preschool period. Children develop three important literacy skills during this time: phonological awareness, print awareness, and alphabet knowledge (Pence & Justice, 2017). These three skills are heavily dependent on the child’s early language that they have developed during their first three years of life.  Early literacy skills are a predictor of later school performance for the child; the stronger their skills are when they begin school, the better for their overall development (Shahaeian et al., 2018). Reading to children at an early age can give them a head start in literacy and have a positive effect on their future academic achievements as well. 

Storytime has many benefits for children other than promoting early literacy and language development. It can help develop their concentration, social skills, communication skills, and encourages their imagination and creativity (Kids Kingdom Early Learning Center, 2022). Also, taking the time to read together can promote bonding between you and your child. It is never too early to start reading to your child, nor is it ever too late to begin! 

Storytime is offered at St. Joseph County Public Library locations. Designed for families with preschool children ages 3 to 5, Storytimes promote early literacy skills through books, rhymes and songs.

Mondays – 10:30 a.m.
German Branch

Tuesdays – 10:30 a.m.
Francis Branch
Tutt Branch

Wednesdays – 10:30 a.m.
Centre Branch
Francis Branch
Western Branch

Thursdays – 10:30 a.m.
Main Library
River Park Branch
Lakeville Branch (alternating)
North Liberty Branch (alternating)

References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2022). Reading and Writing (Literacy). American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/literacy/

Kids Kingdom Early Learning Center. (2022). Benefits of storytime for a child’s development. https://kidskingdom1.com/2022/03/benefits-of-storytime-for-a-childs-development/

Pence, K. & Justice, L. (2017). Language development from theory to practice. Pearson.

Shahaeian, A., Wang, C., Tucker-Drob, E., Geiger, V., Bus, A., & Harrison, L. (2018). Early shared reading, socioeconomic status, and children’s cognitive and school competencies: six years of longitudinal evidence. Sci Stud Read, 22(6), 485–502. doi:10.1080/10888438.2018.1482901.

Written by Brianna Knisley
Graduate Student in IUSB’s Speech-Language Pathology program
Expected graduation: May 2023

You and Your Baby: A Reading Journey

By: Kara Pauley, Early Literacy Librarian

When is the right time to start reading to your baby? The answer is that it is never too early.  According to expert pediatricians, the first three years of a child’s life are critical for language development (Abrams).  But even more important is the shared connection you and your baby are forging as you read together.  If you are wondering how to help your baby become a life-long reader, it starts with positive reading experiences.

To create a positive reading experience for your baby, one thing is necessary: you! Being held and hearing your voice while you read does more than simply help your baby “build a rich network for words” (Lewis).  As you read together, you are creating a special moment and connection between you and your baby.  

Another way to create a positive association with books is by letting your child chew on them.  Yes, chew!  Buy board books, soft books, and books with different textures to let your child explore books on their own in all kinds of ways–by chewing, feeling, and looking. Babies explore first with their mouths, so letting them have books they can chew is a great way to start them on their reading journey!

When looking for books to read to your baby, look for books with “simple, familiar, and repetitive text, and clear pictures” (Lewis). Sometimes popular picture books with more complex storylines for older children get republished as board books, but do your best to seek out books with simple text. What you want to create is a positive reading experience, not a full story just yet.  

That being said, you can still choose simple books with rich language. It is beneficial for babies to hear not only a quantity of language, but also quality language (Egbert). This can be done through the books you read together, as well as by talking to your baby as you go about your day. As you expose your baby to new words, you are making language more accessible to them.

Beyond reading, there are even more ways you can help your baby on the path to reading, including: singing nursery rhymes, making animal sounds, moving their fingers, and more. If you’re not sure where to start, these are all activities we practice in Babytime at the library. This fall, we are pleased to announce that Babytimes are available at the Main Library, the Francis Branch Library, and the Centre Township Branch Library.  

We hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can still create a great reading time at home. You are your child’s first teacher, and the library is here to help. We are excited to see where the world of books takes you and your child!


Kara Pauley is the Early Literacy Librarian at Main Library.  Even more than reading, she loves to sing and play the ukulele at Storytime and Babytime.  Her favorite books usually have off-beat humor and a lot of drama.


Sources

Abrams, Mary Ann, MD, MDH.  “Early Literacy: Why Reading is Important to a Child’s Development.”  Nationwide Children’s.  March 2019. 

Egbert, Lisalee D., PhD.  “ASL: For Young Children, Both Quantity and Quality Matters.”  American Society for Deaf Children.  May 2019.

Lewis, Kandia N., Ph.D.  “Reading Books to Babies.”  Kids Health.  August 2019.


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Children, cast your vote for the Indiana Firefly Award

By: Kara Pauley, Early Literacy Librarian

Children ages 0 to 5 are invited to vote for the Indiana Firefly Award until July 31. Voting forms are available at every library location and online.

Every year, the Indiana Center for the Book organizes an initiative called the Firefly Award, in which early childhood professionals nominate five picture books with high artistic quality and compelling narratives that support early literacy. This is no ordinary book award. Once the book nominees are announced, children ages 0-5 actually get to vote and select the winner.

Often librarians say at Storytime that reading is the best thing you can do to help children gain the skills to get ready to read. But it is even better to give children the opportunity to choose books on their own, which gives them agency and transforms reading into an activity that they want to do.  

The Indiana Firefly Award takes this one step further. Children are not only choosing their own books, but they are choosing the best picture book for all children in the state of Indiana. What could be a more positive reading experience?

This year’s selections are all about play, which is another experience that helps develop early literacy skills. Through play, children are exploring the world around them, learning to communicate, and building vocabulary. Play also promotes physical development, teaches children how to share, and forms critical thinking skills. There are so many great benefits to play, which is why I am so excited about this year’s Firefly Award nominees.

How to Vote

Participating in the voting process is easy.

  • To vote on paper, go to any St. Joe County Public Library location and ask for a voting form. You can also download the form here.
  • Make sure you and your child have read all the books available, then help your child circle their favorite book on the voting form.
  • Return the voting form to your branch. Some branches have voting boxes, to make the experience even more special. If you prefer to vote online, the voting form has a QR code or you can go directly to the online voting form. Ballots will be accepted until July 31.

We’re excited for your children to read these great books, which touch on subjects we all love such as animals, dinosaurs, and imagination. We can’t wait to see which book your children will choose!


Kara Pauley is the Early Literacy Librarian at Main Library.  Even more than reading, she loves to sing and play the ukulele at Storytime and Babytime.  Her favorite books usually have off-beat humor and a lot of drama.

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