Wednesday, January 10, 2001

Libraries make room for infants

Programs aim to strengthen parental bond

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They may not be able to read yet, but infants and toddlers are fast becoming one of the hottest markets for Tristate libraries.

        • In response to demand, the Boone County Public Library System is starting a new babytime program for patrons from 6 to 18 months old at its Florence and Union branches. The program, which starts next week, will supplement the current laptime story sessions for parents and toddlers ranging in age from 18 months to 2 1/2 years.

[photo] 15-month-old Jackson Witt reaches for bubbles blown by Mindy Carrico during the “Babes in Storyland” program at the public library branch in Independence.
(Patrick Reddy photos)
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        “We've had a lot of requests from people coming in who had children younger than 18 months,” said Diane Setter, children's associate librarian for the Boone County public library's Scheben branch in Union. “This whole area's so young, and there are a lot of new families moving in who don't have family in the area. They want their children to be able to interact with other children.”

        • After a holiday break, the Kenton County Public Library system resumed its popular “Babes in Storyland” program on Monday, and the Erlanger branch plans to start a weekly “Mother Goose Time” on Jan. 23. Both programs are for newborns through 2-year-olds. Both libraries also offer toddler programs.

        • The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County also features “Library Babies” and “Toddler Time” programs at its downtown library, as well as at several branches.

        • While the Campbell County Public Library system doesn't offer reading programs for infants, it sponsors programs for children as young as 3.

        “We must have had a million inquiries about a program for infants, before we publicized it,” said Jill Baurichter, children's li brarian for the Erlanger branch of the Kenton County Public Library system. “We're figuring that once the word gets out, it'll take off.”

[photo] Ms. Carrico (seated, second from right), children's librarian at the Independence library, reads to participants in the “Babes in Storyland” program.
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        The infant and toddler programs generally run 30 to 40 minutes, and involve the reading of one or two children's stories, some singing with parents and children, and games involving rhymes and repetitive words.

        Besides helping parents and caregivers bond, infant reading programs expose young children to libraries at an early age, they help build vocabulary, and they make reading fun, Tristate librarians said.

        “Reading to young children is probably the most important thing that parents can do to help their development,” said Sally Moomaw, professional development coordinator at the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Development Center at the University of Cincinnati.

        Ms. Moomaw, who has a book on early literacy coming out in March, said that reading to infants and toddlers promotes speech development. Toddlers learn that print has meaning, and they learn how to fill in the blanks when they later begin reading, she said.

        Sharon Huff said she and her daughters Erin, 5, and Emma, 20 months, as well as her year-old niece, Kylie Wiggins, are regular attendees of the “Babes in Storyland” program in Independence.

        “It gives them a chance to get out and hear the stories they like,” Mrs. Huff said, as Emma paged through a book on babies dressed as animals, and Kylie danced to nursery rhymes at Monday's program. “We do a lot of reading at home, but this gets them familiar with the library at a very early age. They're not afraid of it when they get older.”

       For information on infant and toddler reading programs, call your local library branch.


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