Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bryce Does 'Play'! A Babies Need Words Every Day Blog Tour post

I’m so happy to post my contribution to The Babies Need Words Every Day Blog Tour! Babies Need Words Every Day is an initiative by the Association for Library Service to Children through The Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. There are posters and book lists in English and Spanish, as well as a media kit to help your form and strengthen early literacy partnerships in your community. The beautiful artwork was illustrated by Il Sung Na, author of A Book of Babies (2014) and others. Check out the rest of the roundup here!

Today, I get to talk about PLAY! But first I want to talk a little more about how BNWED is used in our libraries.

Several of our member libraries use Babies Need Words Every Day as a storytime resource. Janet Weber of Tigard Public Library shared how she works the posters and booklists into Book Babies (0-12 months):
"Each week during my Book Babies program, I share an early literacy skill/activity or sentence about something based on brain research.  As soon as I heard about the BNWED initiative from ALSC, I printed up the posters and laminated them. For 8 weeks, I incorporated the BNWED posters into my program when I would normally share a skill or brain research sentence.  I used one poster a week and talked about the particular highlighted skill during my Book Babies program, along with what the parents could do at home with their baby.  I also printed out copies of the BNWED booklists and have them available for parents in attendance.  I made sure we owned copies of all the books on the list.  If we didn't have them, then I ordered copies.

"When I start my next Book Babies story time session, I will highlight the posters again for another for 8-weeks.  I will have a new crowd of babies by then, so the info will be new to them."
Janet presenting a poster and skill to the storytime crowd
I’m so pumped about the Babies Need Words Every Day posters, to be honest. You can hang them around and watch the interactions happen as they are discovered. They’re even the perfect size to hang above a changing table! I'm hoping soon to partner with local organizations on shared messaging using these posters.

It’s actually really funny to me that I get to talk about play, because I used to not believe in it. Okay, so I believed in it like one believes that eating vegetables is good for you. A general, “Of course. Mr. Rogers said so.” But in reality when I was a classroom teacher the kids had 20 minutes of recess every day and THEY WERE ALL JUST FINE, THANKS (“excuse me just a moment. Jimmy SIT DOWN”) anyway they were JUST FINE.

Not that I was some sort of tyrannical monster. I was a teaching product of No Child Left Behind in Title I Schools and gosh darn it that pacing guide of what-to-teach-when ruled my entire existence. There was no time for play. Once I got to libraries, that translated to fewer free-play programs than I would recommend right now.

What changed? I started working with the Beyonce of the Baby World, Brooke, and one of the first things I did with her was write justifications for early literacy grants. One of them was for an updated early literacy center. And wouldn’t you know that I found a ton of research on Google Scholar about play? And that play is like SUPER IMPORTANT, everyone? And I ran over to Brooke’s desk every 5 minutes for a week to tell her something she surely already knew about the importance of play? And that she’s the most patient office-mate EVER OF ALL TIME? And now she’s the chair of the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee; which is why in the world I’m still talking about this, in case you were wondering.

 My absolute favorite way play has manifested itself in libraries is in early literacy play areas. Coming on board at my new job back in July, I was delighted to see such playful spaces. Our 15 member library sites have service areas ranging from 5,000 to 125,000 people, and each site has included a space for play that fits their needs. Some are designated spaces; some are flexible shared spaces. Some play opportunities are available all the time and some are available at certain times during the week or year or during storytime. All are responsive to their communities, and all are So. Awesome.

Cedar Mill Library-Main
Why early literacy play spaces?
 Play spaces have a high ROI: Neuman & Roskos (1993) found that placing objects in a group that had a meaningful connection with each other led to longer play episodes than placing items around the room. These longer, literacy-rich interactions can promote school readiness across socioeconomic classes.

Tigard Public Library 

Bonding with parents: Adding some ideas for parents to involve themselves in literacy learning and play helps them understand their role and maintain their support of their child’s development. While most play should be child-directed, parental involvement in play helps children with communication skills as well as strengthens the parent-child relationship.

Inclusion:  Patrons who come to storytime are a small portion of the families we see every day. Ideas for play around the library can empower a much wider audience to work on literacy skills! 

Cedar Mill Library @ Bethany

Banks Public Library, one of our member sites, recently added an early literacy center for under $300. Here’s what Susan Cackler had to share:
“I would say that having our toys/play area has been a huge change for a small investment.  We have several families that come just to hang out now. Before, we were definitely more of a quick stop on a day of errands, and now we are sometimes the destination.  Some families come on a regular basis, some come when they are having a rough day at home and need a change of scenery, and others just stay a little longer than they used to.  The kids build things with blocks, tell stories with the felt board, and create whole scenarios with the stuffed animals. I love hearing the happy voices and seeing all the creative ways that kids play.”
Banks Public Library 

Are you now too stoked about play to exist? Want apply for a grant to fund your early literacy play space? Lots of those links up there go to research to help write your justification!

Special thanks to all the Washington County Cooperative Library Services member library youth services staff. At the mention of this post at a recent Youth Services Committee Meeting, none of them said "oh dear Lord why" to my face; and to those in this post who actually submitted their spaces to be featured with permission, attaching my name forever to theirs on the Internet. This just makes me want to brag on all of them even more, all the time. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing all of those links! Also, I'm thrilled that several libraries shared what they do (it's like a bonus BNWE post). :D