Supporting Early Literacy Development

Supporting Early Literacy Development at Neill Public Library
by Rachael Ritter, Youth Services Manager at Neill Public Library

 My introduction to Neill Public Library was like that of many families in the area. I was a new parent in a new location, looking for community. When I had my oldest, I received a kind and welcoming Newborn Literacy Packet at Pullman Regional Hospital that included a hand-knitted hat, a library card, a personalized note, and a program flyer promoting a Mother Goose Storytime program for babies! It was such a warm and welcoming message, and it made me feel like I was part of a community. I remembered that welcoming message, and when my oldest was three months old, I attended my first Mother Goose Storytime. It was magical! I met other parents and caregivers, explored the library's diverse picture book collection, and learned how to support my child's language development through stories and rhymes. The Library quickly became my go-to place, and I visited on average twice a week when my children were young, attending weekly storytimes through Preschool.

 Now, 18 years later, I'm a storytime program presenter, hoping to provide the same welcoming feeling to families in the community and inspire a love of stories. Currently, we offer three weekly storytimes to choose from, and I encourage you to attend not only for the engaging storytelling and language development experiences but also to connect with other families in similar life stages.

 · Mother Goose Storytime (birth-2 years) Wednesdays and Thursdays 10:15-10:45 am

· Preschool Storytime (3-5 years); Wednesdays and Thursdays 11-11:30 am

· Storytime Sing-along (birth-6 years) Wednesdays 6-6:30 pm

We understand if you can't make it to our storytimes in person, and have increased our outreach efforts this past year to bring early literacy programs to youth where they are. Our youth staff visit 11 preschool classes monthly to support early literacy skills, promote phonemic awareness and pre-reading activities in our community. If you're an educator interested in a classroom read, please reach out, we'd love to visit your classroom!

At Neill Public Library, we take pride in nurturing and supporting early literacy development, not only through our programs but also through our children's book collections. Our early literacy book collections include colorful board books, engaging picture books, and early phonetic readers. These collections expose children to diverse stories, characters, and themes important to their cognitive development. We are also excited to expand our multi-lingual audio picture book collection through the generous support of the Kiwanis Club of Pullman.

 We also provide eBooks and eAudiobooks through the Libby app to complement traditional print materials. The Libby app offers several accessibility features, such as text scale, lighting to maximize contrast, and custom font choices, including the OpenDyslexic font, which has larger spacing and may be easier to read for some people. Young readers can also set their preferences only to see Juvenile content or use the explore tab to browse curated youth eReading collections. To enjoy all the wonderful options of the Libby app, download it from your device's app store, select Neill Public Library, and enter your library card number to browse an expansive digital collection.

 We know libraries can be indispensable partners in a child's early literacy journey, and we're excited to announce that after a hiatus due to the pandemic, we'll be bringing back a new version of the Early Literacy Packet for newborns later in 2024, thanks to the funding from Pullman Child Welfare.

Neill Public Library has been my library for nearly 20 years, and I've seen its impact on my three children. It all started with a welcome packet that transformed into a support system that encouraged my kids' love for learning and stories from a young age. It's been an absolute joy to be part of other families' early literacy journeys and support systems. We believe it takes a village to raise a child, and we hope Neill Public Library can be part of your village too.
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