Kids learn their way around libraries
All six Garfield County Library Branches were full of laughter and excited chatter this past month. The cause? The libraries were full of the many young participants in the Raising a Reader program supported by the Roaring Fork Valley Early Learning Fund. During the school year, preschool teachers take on the task of teaching the children in their care how to use the library. Raising a Reader provides sets of books that teachers send home weekly in bright red book bags, so the kids and their parents get to enjoy reading them together. The children are then responsible for bringing the books back before borrowing another set. All of this, aside from being fun and educational, teaches the children how to use the library. After practicing these skills throughout the school year, students are rewarded by taking a field trip to the library in April, where they hear a story and discuss the care of books. (No sticky peanut butter and jelly hands while reading!) Then comes the big finale. The children each receive a blue book bag of their own to use for checking out library books, a library card and a sticker showing they attended the program. At the end of the field trip, each child gets to check out two books to take home. Many pictures are taken by the parents and teachers alike. Big grins are the order of the day as everyone is told to say “Warty pickles!”The excitement the children felt at receiving their blue “library” book bag was palpable. One little boy couldn’t sit still and kept saying over and over, “I want a library card. I want a library card!” Another boy hammed it up for the camera by bowing and throwing kisses while happily clutching his new book bag.There were approximately 102 children who participated in field trips to the Parachute Branch Library, part of the more than 1,500 children participating in Garfield and Pitkin Counties. The Raising a Reader staff works with preschool teachers, day care providers and the libraries to organize the visits, and many parents attend and proudly watch their children receive their rewards for working hard and learning new skills. Three cheers for Raising a Reader and all the new library users in Garfield County. We wish them many happy returns!Teresa Wilcox is a youth services librarian with the Parachute branch of the Garfield County Library District.
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