Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Why We Offer an Early Literacy Calendar

When I got my job here in Missouri back in the summer of 2011, I had just attended the 2011 ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans; I was bubbling over with enthusiasm, especially for early literacy. That energy, my now-boss says, came across in my interview. I was so gung-ho in my interview, in fact, I even used the phrase, "Even if you don't hire me, you have to do this."

I was referring to creating an early literacy calendar.

It's now over a year and a half later, and my library district does indeed have an early literacy calendar. Each month, we create and make available a calendar full of simple suggestions for early literacy activities that caregivers and their children can do almost anywhere--non-intimidating activities that build pre-reading skills. The activities are based around the ECRR five practices with some math thrown in. The children's staff across the library district take turns filling in the monthly templates I've created; each branch is tasked with populating a calendar with activities every 9 months. For that relatively small amount of work on the part of our children's staff, the benefit to our communities is significant.

We hand out early literacy calendars at our baby, twos, and preschool programs. We have copies of the calendar available at the check-out desk. We share the calendars with local preschools and day cares, encouraging them to make photocopies for the parents of their charges. We post a link to the current calendar on our website, and I have started sharing the pdf on our Library Foundation's new blog. We pass it out when we register pre-readers for summer reading. When workloads and budgets allow, I want our graphic design guy to rework the look so we can make the calendars available at grocery stores and doctors' offices.

If dreams came true, our early literacy calendars would end up in the hands of every caregiver in our county who spends time with a pre-reader. We librarians know how seemingly simple activities can have a great impact--and we often have thousands of potential activities bouncing around our brains, ready to meet the needs of our communities. Now those activities and tips can reach a wider audience. That's why we offer an early literacy calendar.


22 comments:

  1. What a great idea. I love how the work is spread among many branches. This kind of thing could be developed by a library association in the same way and made available to libraries of all sizes. Thanks for sharing a great idea - and a great process.

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    1. I hope your state library association develops just such a resource. I would love to see what a statewide push for early literacy at home would look like, and the effects it might produce.

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  2. Amy, you're a genius! I love this idea.

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    1. I got the idea at a session in New Orleans. Embarrassingly, I cannot seem to find my note about what library was already doing one.

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    2. I went through my back files and figured it out--someone in New Orleans mentioned the Fun Calendar at the Pierce County Library System in Washington. That's when the seed was planted in my brain.

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  3. This is a fabulous idea!! Wheels are turning on how to make it work here.
    Like the suggestion to do it statewide. Sounds like something that could be done by a virtual committee-get people committee experience for their resumes while producing a amazing resource.
    Thanks!

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    1. I like the virtual committee idea. What a great way to get people from all reaches involved and to utilize our collective expertise.

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  4. This is WONDERFUL. I am going to do this. What a cheap and easy way to encourage literacy with concrete examples of things caregivers and parents should be doing.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! Our caregivers certainly seem to like it.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this...I think it's something that goes above handing someone an ECRR pamphlet.

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    1. I have been doing the Early Literacy calendar now at my library for a few months now and my patrons love it! Thank you again for the idea...I actually just got an email from a librarian a few states away that would like to use my template. High five! -Michelle

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  6. This is such a creative and clever program, Amy! I really admire the effort put into creating different activities for different subjects, it definitely adds more value to the learning experience at a young and absorbent age. I will definitely come back to visit your blog!

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    1. I am so glad you find it useful, Jeff! I hope your future exploring of the blog is as satisfactory.

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  7. I work at a small rural library, but our library is part of a large cooperative. I'm going to see if our cooperative Youth Service group could put together something like this to share at each library. Great idea and thanks for sharing!

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    1. I hope your cooperative goes for it! I started mine small just at my branch before it expanded to our district, so that's an option, too, if anyone is initially hesitant.

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  8. I really like this idea for our Early Literacy Space. A nice take-away for parents! Just checking it's ok for me to use your idea/calendar? Don't want to step on toes!

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    1. Leona, please use whatever you like! The more kids whose caregivers take a vested interested in their early literacy skills, the better.

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  9. What I LOVE about this is your enthusiasm comes through on all levels -- and the calendar is a splendid idea. We may "borrow" it from you for use here at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, WI. We started incorporating early literacy tips into our storytimes a few years ago -- and putting those tips on our bookmarks. Now, we've created an early literacy based reading program that incorporates both reading and early lit. activities on the reading log -- and the parents have LOVED IT. I think they would really appreciate the calendar. Thanks for the GREAT idea!

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  10. Hi Amy,
    We're also tweaking your idea here in Philly! We love the simplicity of it, and how it supports activities that caregivers are (probably, hopefully!) already doing with their kids.
    Thanks for passing it along.

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