This Sunday, November 8, Worthington Libraries will host the fourth annual Read to Your Baby festival.
The event will take place from 1-5 pm at the Old Worthington Library (820 High Street) and will feature a presentation by children's book author and illustrator Bob Barner at 2 pm. Mr. Barner's books will be available to purchase, and he will sign them at the conclusion of his presentation.
Other organizations serving the needs of children and their families, such as Nationwide Children's Hospital, Franklin County Children Services and Worthington Parks and Recreation, among others, will also be there. The event is made possible with support from Target.
Aside from being a fun event for young children and their caregivers, the festival serves the larger purpose of focusing attention on the importance of early childhood literacy.
A recent story in the Columbus Dispatch reported that four out of every ten children in the Columbus School District enter kindergarten without knowledge of basic literacy skills. These skills include knowing how to handle a book, how to turn pages and that you read the type on a page from left to right. A child without these basic skills will spend a lot of time playing catch-up with his or her peers and may continue to struggle throughout school, increasing the likelihood they will repeat a primary grade.
A lack of basic literacy skills also means that a child has probably been read to only rarely, if ever. As a librarian, mother and grandmother, I find that incredibly sad, but I also see it as an opportunity to make a difference.
The mission of Worthington Libraries is, in part, "to encourage lifelong learning." A lifetime of learning begins at birth and includes developing an appreciation for books. The library staff is trained in the presentation of the six early childhood literacy skills (print motivation, print awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, phonological awareness and letter knowledge) and incorporates them into storytime sessions and other children's programs. They also provide information about how to grow the skills at home.
I encourage parents and caregivers to learn more by attending the festival or a regular storytime session, which are offered at various times throughout the week at all three Worthington Libraries locations. Most importantly, set aside some time each day to read to your baby (or child of any age)!
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