Monthly Archives: December 2012

Talking to Children: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

The holidays and all the gift-giving they entail are quickly approaching. Did you know that one of the best gifts you can give a pre-reader is absolutely free? This holiday season, consider giving the gift of talk.

GiftTalking is one of the five practices to promote early literacy recommended by the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association. Talking to the children in your life is a great way to introduce them to new vocabulary and how the world works. It is also a terrific way of introducing children to stories, cause, and effect; when you talk to your child about your day, you usually start at the beginning and progress through your day in order, mirroring the way stories have beginnings and endings.

The number of words a child hears before the age of five directly correlates to future reading and school success. Give the children in your life a boost by talking to them as much as possible. Here are some age-appropriate tips:

  • Talking to babies: You can talk to babies about pretty much anything; children this age benefit by hearing the different sounds that make up words as opposed to understanding the actual meanings of the words. If you’re unsure where to start in talking to a baby, consider those Mother Goose and nonsense rhymes from your own childhood–these silly verses feature many interesting sounds that will capture a baby’s attention. Cuddling with babies while you talk also promotes bonding even before the child begins to recognize words. Keep in mind that the first word most children do learn to recognize is their own name; make a point of calling children by name as much as possible.
  • Talking to toddlers: Give names to things when talking to toddlers. Point out colors whenever you can; name the items you put in your cart at the grocery store and the items in rooms at your home. Talk to a toddler while you do your holiday cooking; a toddler in a high chair is in a perfect position to watch and listen as you talk about measuring, stirring, and tasting. Point out all of the interesting things that you see around you, like twinkling lights, shiny ribbons, and cold snow. This is the age at which children start to recognize that words correspond with real things, and when you name the items they can see you are giving them the building blocks for understanding the world.
  • Talking to preschoolers: By around age three, children should have a basic vocabulary for the things in the world around them. Now it is time to talk about the “hows” and “whys” of the world. Instead of just naming the foods you put in your grocery cart, talk about what you plan to do with those foods at home. Talk about how a red light means “stop” and a green light means “go.” Explain what your family does during the holidays, and then talk about why. Preschoolers have a reputation for always asking “why?”; satisfy their natural curiosity with real answers, and your talking will help them make connections about how the world works.

Remember that talking to children helps them develop the skills necessary to learn to read and to succeed later in life. Talk to children all year round.

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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Literacy Initiatives

ImageWe are pleased to share this article from Erin Wolfman, Creative Director for Connections to Success in St. Charles, Missouri. Erin’s guest blog highlights the role that early literacy development can play in a child’s life. Thanks to Connections to Success for allowing the Library Foundation to touch the lives of the families they serve.
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Breaking the cycle of poverty through literacy initiatives

The St. Charles City-County Library District teamed up with Connections to Success, a local nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty, for their annual holiday party on

December 8th. The hundreds of families that attended this event enjoyed dancing to the tunes of Big Poppa – our holiday DJ – a hula hooping contest, pictures with Santa, craft-making workshops, games, lots of healthy food, a health fair, and story time with volunteers from the library district.
This year’s theme included healthy living and healthy families, because breaking the cycle of poverty starts with a strong family unit. One of the main reasons that Connections was thrilled to partner with the St. Charles library district, is because we knew that they could help foster excitement around reading. Story time was not simply about children hearing a fun story or receiving a book to take home with them, but ultimately, it created enthusiasm to continue reading with their families throughout the year.

Why is this important? According to the latest facts on literacy, fourth grade is a watershed year for students. If a child isn’t reading proficiently by this time, not only do they have a 78 percent chance of not catching up to their peers, but they have significantly higher chances of incarceration or becoming dependent on the welfare system.

Many Connections program participants come from a background of incarceration and/or generational poverty. These families now have children that, if not inspired to read, have a higher chance of getting caught in that same cycle of poverty.

Because of partnerships and programs, such as the early literacy program of the St. Charles library, Connections has the support to provide literacy tools to families and the next generation. And just maybe, together, we can help break the cycle of poverty in the greater St. Louis region.

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Look at the Difference a Gift Can Make

The 2012 year has been tremendous for our libraries and the people who use them due to the value our community places on a strong library district. We want to say a quick yet heartfelt “Thank You” for the generous gifts received by the Library Foundation. Due to the kindness of individuals, businesses and community organizations, so far this year we were able to:

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  • Distribute 10,000 new books to parents of pre-readers and alert them to the importance of early literacy.
  • Provide more than 20,000 items to senior centers and assisted living homes to help sustain their lifelong learning.
  • Connect to a number of new partners and organizations that will allow us to make a greater impact on literacy levels in our community.
  • Send volunteers with library materials to homebound individuals who are otherwise unable to connect to our libraries.
  • Support the new Spencer Road Library with more than $550,000 which helped this new facility become a true gathering place where individuals, businesses and non-profits can thrive.

As use of library resources continues to increase, donations allow us to provide support beyond the books and programming many associate with a library visit. Through your gift, the Library Foundation is able to enhance literacy and lifelong education. So again, thank you for making our libraries a greater strength for our community. As you consider your end-of-the-year charitable donations, we ask you to keep the Library Foundation in mind. You might consider:

  • Purchasing a commemorative brick at the Spencer Road Library and give a gift to last a lifetime! Brochures are available in each library branch or you can purchase a brick online.
  • Giving a tribute gift in memory of or to honor a family member or friend.
  • Setting up a recurring gift.
  • Leaving a gift in your will or trust.
Donations can be made online at www.stchlibraryfoundation.org or mailed. If you would like more information about the Library Foundation’s initiatives or have any questions, please contact Kristin Williams, Executive Director atkwilliams@stchlibrary.org or 636-441-2300, ext 1582. Your generosity truly does make a difference in our community!

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