"at your library" column in the north island eagle: two columns suddenly without relevance, part 1

This ran shortly before the library closed.

Reading to your children is one of the best and most important things you can do to help them succeed in school – and in life. Storytimes – coming to the library so someone else reads to your children – are another important tool to build literacy and reading readiness.

In the small Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) branches here in the North Island, we are fortunate to work with the Mt. Waddington Family Literacy Society, who hire and train people to be "Mother Goose" storytime leaders.

Thanks to the Literacy Society's generosity and commitment to the community, the Port Hardy Library now offers Mother Goose Storytimes twice each week: Tuesday mornings 10:00-10:30, and Wednesday afternoons 3:30-4:00.

In our Port McNeill and Port Alice branches, Mother Goose visits every-other Saturday morning at 11:00.

In our Sointula and Woss branches, Mother Goose is on a break right now, but will be back soon. You can ask at the library when Mother Goose will be there.

The first rule of library storytimes is that they are fun. We don't expect children to sit perfectly still and quiet. They can colour and draw, they can look through a book, they can play with puzzles, or they can even explore the space if they want.

It's not easy for children to sit still. We know that. But they are still benefitting from storytimes, because their brains are soaking up the building blocks of literacy.

Children benefit from a library storytime in so many ways.

Hearing different adult readers read helps strengthen kids' language skills.

Looking at the pictures in books helps kids build literacy, by associating images with words.

Hearing different kinds of books helps kids understand stories. You may have books at home, but I'll bet you don't have as many as we do! Library storytimes introduce your children to different images, writing styles, cultural backgrounds, and perspectives.

Those diverse stories will spark your child's curiosity and imagination. They will help your child understand the world around them.

Attending a storytime at the library helps children develop social skills. It connects children to other caring adults in the community. For parents who are new to the area, storytime is an opportunity to meet other parents.

Storytime lets children experience reading as something fun and special, so it helps motivate children to read on their own.

And, we hope, library storytimes help children develop a love for the library itself. We want them to see their library as a place where they are accepted and allowed to be themselves – a place where they can enjoy themselves.

Even babies need storytimes! Even though they can't speak yet, babies' brains are learning language all the time. You can help that process by speaking, reading, and singing to them – and by bringing them to storytimes at the library.

Storytimes are more than free entertainment. Netflix or a DVD gives you entertainment. Free programs that build early literacy skills are valuable beyond measure.

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