Check out the library during Family Literacy MonthNov 09, 2023 02:36PM ● By Peri Kinder
There are many ways to develop a child’s love for reading. Having books around the house, reading stories together and setting a good example as a reader are just a few. Another, is to be a regular visitor to the public library.
Since November is Family Literacy Month, and parents are encouraged to bring literacy opportunities into the home, it’s a good time to explore programs at the local library.
“If you don't have books in the home, it’s sending a message to children that this isn’t important, this isn’t part of our family culture,” said Nyssa Fleig, Salt Lake County Library program manager. “So when the whole family gets in on it, you create a culture of reading and literacy in the home.”
County library branches offer early learning programs. With in-person or Zoom storytimes and singing activities, babies and toddlers are introduced to the five learning skills of playing, talking, reading, writing and singing. Fleig said incorporating an at-home, 10-minute bedtime story routine for small children will have a long-lasting effect on literacy.
For children learning to read, the library’s online programs, including Miss Humblebee’s Academy and World Book Early Learning, provide early reading education. Additionally, the Reading Buddies program brings in United Way volunteers to read with children using the Dyad reading method.
“Dyad reading should happen after a student has completed phonics instruction. It’s a method of practice that increases fluency and speed,” Fleig said. “So once they’ve got that proper phonics instruction, and we leave that expertise to the schools, then the library can step in and say, ‘OK, you’ve got the basics, now we can help you increase your confidence.’”
My First Books Club is available at several branches, for children beginning to read chapter books. Also, Read to a Dog is a popular event that has students reading out loud to a therapy dog. Although the program is only available at Holladay, Whitmore and Millcreek, the library hopes to expand it to other branches.
For middle readers, the Great Reads book club is open to youth ages 8-12. Participants read the book then meet as a group with an adult who leads a discussion and provides a craft that goes along with the book.
For teen and adult readers, the library provides programs based on reading ability and interest. Project Read, a local nonprofit, helps adults who are learning to read and a partnership with the English Skills Learning Center offers English classes for those learning to speak and read the language.
“Our libraries represent our communities, so a lot of our westside libraries do have a Spanish speaker on staff,” she said. “If we have a staff member who speaks another language, that will be represented on their name badge…We’re letting them know that we’re here and happy to support them.”
The library launched a new reading challenge for November. As part of Native American Heritage Month, libraries will have displays highlighting indigenous cultures to acknowledge the tribes that were here in the Salt Lake Valley. The reading challenge is to spend 300 minutes reading as an individual or family during the month, especially from books written by indigenous authors.
For more information, visit slcolibrary.org.
“We are big supporters of literacy at the library, it’s probably a core value,” Fleig said. “I think [illiteracy] is one of those things we struggle with invisibly, and that goes from children all the way to adults. There’s support here, no matter where the struggle is with reading. The other thing we like to say is the library is especially for people who don't like to read. It’s really simple. You just haven’t found the right book yet.” λ