By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
Here at WCPL, we host a variety of story times for young children: Snuggle Bug Lapsit Story Time for infants through eighteen months, Toddler Time for eighteen months to three years, and Preschool Story Time for three to five years. These story times are carefully planned and conducted by our children’s librarians using current early literacy research, and each story time is jam packed with fun and engaging age-appropriate stories, rhymes, songs, and aspects of play. And we absolutely LOVE story times! For me, story time is one of the highlights of my week, and I probably get way too excited about certain songs, rhymes, and books.
But why don’t I let you in on a little secret? As much as we love story times, we don’t do it because we love it so much or because that’s just what libraries are supposed to do. Actually, story times aren’t about us at all. Story times are all about YOU! Literacy begins at birth, and we know that it can be difficult to find time to figure out exactly what you’re supposed to do to help foster your child’s development. Hence, story times! We’re here to show you how you can introduce these early literacy skills to your little ones.
Still need convincing that story time is as awesome as I think it is? Luckily for you, I’ve listed several reasons why story time is important for children and parents.
- Songs and rhymes are a great way for children to hear the sounds of language. Singing slows down language and allows children to hear the smaller sounds and syllables of words, which helps children sound out words when they learn to read.
- Children learn how books work as they listen to stories being read to them. They learn how to hold a book and turn the pages. Even when babies play with board books in ways we find unconventional (chewing, pulling, pushing, etc.), they’re developing print awareness, a skill research has shown is an important part of a strong foundation for reading.
- Books, songs, and rhymes help develop children’s vocabulary. The language used in books, songs, and rhymes is richer and uses different words than we use in conversation.
- Children can learn and develop their communication skills by interacting with other children and by watching their parents interact with other adults.
- As children have fun in story time, they learn to enjoy books. Children are more likely to stick with learning to read, even if it’s difficult, if they find books enjoyable.
- Children are exposed to different cultures and countries during story time, which broadens their horizons and adds to background knowledge that helps them understand what they read as they get older.
- Sitting still and listening to books during story time boosts children’s listening skills and helps them increase their attention span.
- Story time is great way to meet new people and make new friends.
- I’ll admit that libraries can be intimidating to navigate sometimes, and many older kids—and even adults—struggle to find what they’re looking for, ask for help, and check out books. Exposing children to the library when they’re younger ensures that they will know how to use a library.
- Story time can be a great way to simply get out of the house. We don’t mind if you use us for a change of scenery.
So what are you waiting for? Come join us for story time!
Toddler Time (18 months to 3 years): Tuesdays, 10:00 am and 11:15 am
Preschool Story Time (3 to 5 years): Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 am
Snuggle Bug Lapsit Story Time (birth to 18 months): Fridays, 10:00 am
Supporting School Age Children and their Reading at Williamson County Public Library Children’s Section
By Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian
Frequently Asked Questions
What resources are available at the library to help my children find books that they can read?
Answer: We have lists available in the Children’s Section that are some of our favorite books for different grade levels. Feel free to ask us where they are. These are also available on our website. Click on our Kids page. On the right you’ll see “Let’s Read Books Lists”. This will link you to lists of books by grade level.
My child is reading at a specific reading level. How can I find books with that reading level and are your books color codes by reading level?
Answer: Many schools use Accelerated Reader (AR) reading levels. The child takes a STAR test on the computer. AR reading levels are given in two numbers such as 3.2. The first number is the grade level. In this case the child is reading at a third grade reading level. The second number is the month. This child is reading at a third grade, second month reading level. We do not have the books color coded by reading level.
You can use our on-line catalog to find books by AR Reading Level.
- Go to our website: http://lib.williamson-tn.org/
- On the left put your cursor on “Find books and more”.
- Click on “Classic Catalog”.
- In the first box that says “title”, use the down arrow and change it to read “ keyword”.
- Determine the interest level of your child. Select one of the following.
- LG (lower grades) Kinder thru 3rd grade
- MG (middle grades) 4-8th grades
- MG+ (Middle Grade Plus) 6-8th grades
- UG (upper grades) 9-12 grades
- Write the AR in capital letters. Then enter the interest level also in capitals. Then write the numeric level. So I would write: AR LG 3.2 and up comes a list of all the books at that level.
- You can limit it by Selecting Children’s. Then click on “modify search”. Put a check on” limit search to available items”. Select the “location” you want.
- This method works fairly well. Sometimes books that are at other reading levels also are pulled up. Double check that the BL (book level) is the one that you are looking for.
There is also good website: The AR Bookfinder
This site can also help you find the AR Book level for books that you have at home. You can also use it to find the AR reading level of the books on our reading lists. They now also have the Lexile level.
My children prefer to browse looking for books. How can I help them find books that are not too hard or too easy?
Answer: Have the child open the book and read a page. The child holds up a finger for every word missed. If more than five words are missed on a page, the book is too hard. This is often called the 5 finger rule. You can also tell by how fast or slowly the child reads. If she is reading the text very slowly and not missing any words, it still could be hard for her to read a chapter book at this speed. Try a book a little easier.
At school my child has a DRA reading level. How do I find books at that reading level?
- The DRA test is given by the teacher rather than by a computer test, such as the AR Star test. Here is a chart that gives the reading levels by various reading programs/tests.
- Here is an article that explains about how to find books using the DRA level.
How do I find a book using Lexile Reading Levels?
- Here’s a good article.
- This website finds books according to Lexile.
- In the Williamson County Library Catalog follow the directions of #3 above. Instead of putting in an AR Reading level, write the number of lexile followed by Lexile. So if you write 830 Lexile you will get a list of books that we own at that level.
My child is struggling with the basics of reading. How can I help him learn to read?
Answer: There is an excellent website named Progressive Phonics. It has a systematic collection of books that teach you how to instruct your child. The books are in color. They are funny and have parts for you to read aloud and for your child to read out loud.
What are some fun ways to learn the words they don’t know?
- Notebook: You can keep a notebook and offer to write down the words that your child doesn’t know. This way you know what patterns need to be taught or reviewed. If you need to, you can look them up on the Progressive Phonics website.
- Play Memory: Make 2 flash cards on index cards for each of 10-15 words. Mix the cards up and turn the cards over. Each person takes a turn, flipping over two cards at a time. When the person finds a pair, he keeps them until the end of the game. The person with the most pairs at the end of the game, wins.
- Personal Speller: Make on a computer or in a notebook, a personal speller. This is a list of words in alphabetic order that the student has trouble understanding or spelling. This helps the student learn to read and spell the words and is very handy to have for writing assignments. This works well for older students.
- Post words that are being learned on the refrigerator or on a dry eraser board.
- For difficult words or word patterns, find a little tune to use as a memory devise. The B-I-N-G-O part in the song Bingo works well for the “ight” word family.
- For words that may be difficult to learn, may try writing the word using art supplies. Words like “though” might be hard to learn, but fun to do in crayon, glitter and glue. Spending the time on each letter might help make a connection. This can be hung on a cabinet, so it is easily seen.
My child is reading above grade level. How do I find books that are appropriate for his/her maturity?
Answer: We have grade level lists. These books are appropriate even for younger children. We often suggest lists that are above the grade level that match their reading level.
We know our child’s reading level. Does she/ he have to read at that level all the time?
Answer: Particularly children who are reading above their grade level find that they like to read at different reading levels. Sometimes they will read books that their peers are reading. Sometimes they enjoy quick, fast reads. Other times they want a challenge. It is good for students to read at various levels. This way they’ll read books that are meant for their age group as well as enjoy the challenge.
My child’s teacher says that although he is in third grade, he reads at an eighth grade reading level. How do I find appropriate books?
Answer: This is a challenge. One way to approach it is to find books at the next reading level up. So in this case, it would be fourth grade. If he stretches up to eighth grade, he’s going to miss a lot of great books and be in material that he’s not ready for. Going through the fourth grade and then the fifth grade lists, he’s going to have a lot of fun and occasionally will find a more challenging read and enjoy it. Another great resource is The Volunteer State Book Award lists. These are books and authors that are selected by librarians across the state for their great writing and have been published in the last few years. The kids vote on their favorites at the end of the year. We keep lists from preceding years, because these books are still great books and we have lots of copies.
I want to read out loud to my kids. What are good books to read?
Answer: Parents often find that it helps to read one grade level above where the children are. This way, they are exposed to ideas and vocabulary that the parent can explain.
If you need help, feel free to ask the Children’s and Young Adult library staff. They’ll be glad to make suggestions. Have a great adventure!