On Thursday I attended my first Ready Set Learn (RSL) event at a local elementary school. The school is only a few blocks from our branch, so I was able to enjoy the glorious spring weather on a short afternoon walk. Just look at that sky!
To quote the Vancouver School Board,
Ready, Set, Learn Programs take place in every elementary school in Vancouver and are open to families and caregivers with children who are 3 and 4 year olds. The purpose of the program is to give children and their families/caregivers resources and access to resources that will enable children to have rich learning experiences prior to entering formal schooling.
I was invited to attend the RSL as a community partner, and make a brief presentation about the importance of reading with young children, as well as promote some of the events and resources available at the library.
The event was held in the school’s gymnasium, and featured several community partners and speakers, including a community health nurse, a settlement worker, a support worker, and several translators. A number of stations were set up around the gym for children to play with while their parents listened to the speakers. My favourite station, of course, was the reading corner.
The kindergarten teacher had prepared a poster for me, and I created a little display with my library handouts. Standing beside it made me feel a little bit like a student at a science fair, waiting for the teacher to come and examine my project.
The event was only about an hour long, but the schedule was full, with a number of topics being covered, mostly by the kindergarten teacher. The topics were each designed to help parents and caregivers prepare their children for success in kindergarten. My spiel was topic 2: books!
- Choice – Reading shouldn’t feel like a chore. Encourage your children to explore their interests and get them involved in picking which books to read together.
- Cuddles – Reading together is a wonderful bonding experience, and gives you as a caregiver the opportunity to support your child’s literacy development. Make reading a fun and rewarding experience, and help your child associate reading with positive emotions and memories.
- Conversation – Reading shouldn’t be a one-way experience. As you read with your child, stop and ask questions, and encourage them to do the same. For example: What do you think is going to happen next? How do you think she feels right now? Why do you think he said that? Do you agree with their decision? Encourage your child to interact with the text, explore what they are reading and express their thoughts, emotions and opinions.
I also touched on the importance of reading to a child in whatever language the caregiver is most comfortable with. Children benefit most from reading with a confident, enthusiastic adult, in any language. The library has children’s books in many different languages, as well as bilingual books, to support families.
There was time after the presentations for questions and chatting, and I was able to connect with a number of local families and introduce our story times and kids programs. Our multilingual children’s books don’t circulate as well as our English collection, particularly our Vietnamese collection, despite our large Vietnamese community. Being able to connect with individual parents in the community allowed me to promote the collections, while getting a better understanding of why parents might not be utilizing the resources.
Community outreach is my passion, and I believe it is vital that children’s librarian be active, engaged members of the community. By attending this event I was able to connect with families who for various reasons might never visit a library, and help support them and their children in a positive environment. I’m looking forward to my next outing!