GALLIPOLIS — Poet and author Emilie Buchwald wrote, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
Pediatricians and educations both promote the idea that it is never too early to begin reading to your children, all ages, including infants, reap the benefits. Study after study supports the importance of early exposure to books in the development of neurological, educational, psychological, social and linguistic elements in young children that lead to academic success.
With that in mind, the Bossard Library in Gallipolis offers multiple resources to engage caregivers and children in the joy of reading.
Youth Services Program Coordinator Rachael Barker and associate Kim Wilcoxen, affectionately known to their young patrons as Miss Rachael and Miss Kim, are at the forefront of these programs that include Storytime, Lapsit, and the Summer Reading program to name a few.
Continuing some programs has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many are typically offered in person. The initial shut down took everyone by surprise; there were no guidelines in place to offer programs and services in this new environment, but Miss Rachael and Miss Kim have not been deterred. Through their creativity and determination, resources are still being offered.
In-person Storytime had been a regular weekly event, so the challenge was to find a way to continue.
“When the shutdown first began, I wanted to keep Storytime going, so I decided to do a virtual Storytime at home,” Barker said.
Dressed as a pirate, Miss Rachael read “Froggie Goes to Hawaii” with her husband, Chris, providing the pirate voices. Another virtual story time required her mother’s assistance in setting up a puppet theater.
“We set up a puppet theater and did a puppet show. It was so much fun!” she said. “So, I continued doing them.”
Miss Rachael explained she tries to make the Virtual Storytime personal, and used photos of her own visit to Hawaii in making the set of “Froggy Goes to Hawaii.”
She said she wants the stories to be fun, and keeps them to about 15 to 20 minutes. Crafts associated with Storytime can be picked up at the Library to make at home.
“I don’t want the kids to get bored,” she added. “I know everyone has been doing lots of virtual classes, so I try to keep them short and fun. The crafts further engage them with the book.”
As a way of promoting literacy and physical activity, the library opened StoryWalk in cooperation with the French Art Colony (FAC). This unique way to enjoy children’s books in an outside venue is permanently located on the grounds of the FAC. Currently visitors read “Some Snow Is… ,“ written by Ellen Yeomans and illustrated by Andrea Offermann, as they walk from frame to frame along the path. A new StoryWalk will begin in March.
Virtual Lapsit is for ages birth to three years. With the young children on their caregiver’s laps, Miss Kim reads board books and sings. Some of her interactive sessions include using scarves and egg shakers to follow along with the rhyming lyrics.
According to Miss Rachael, the library is currently developing a collection of “decodable books” for beginning readers. Decodable titles help readers connect phonic and word analysis to understand what they are reading and build reading fluency.
Book Clubs are available for tweens between eight and twelve, and includes a book discussion, painting, and games.
Teen readers can join a club with members from 13-19; Teen Instagram is also available with news, events, and book recommendations specifically for this age group.
“We even had our own ‘Hunger Games’ (based on the book with the same name) at one of our meetings,” said Miss Rachael. “We had Nerf gun battles and had so much fun.”
“There are so many fun activities going on at the library despite the pandemic,” Miss Kim said. “We work hard to keep everyone safe, and that means most activities are virtual. We miss interacting in person on a daily basis, but we will continue to provide programs and services to the community in a way we can all safely participate. We work with our local afterschool programs, and I am excited to be a judge for a Pitch Challenge, it is like Shark Tank, for Gallia Academy, River Valley, and South Gallia. And we can still make in person or virtual visits to kindergartens by request.”
She encouraged the community to stay engaged with the library and to reach out if there is a need they can help with.
“I could go on about all the great things we are doing, but instead I will suggest you visit our website to find out about all the resources available, and call if you have any questions.”
For additional information or to access virtual programs, visit https://www.bossardlibrary.org or call (740) 446-READ (7323).
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.