Libraries are drastically cutting their community programs. Day care centers are shutting. Recreation departments are gone! Let’s reflect on what our children are losing. And what does a rich arts and culture community look like? Well, it includes great services for young families.
Do you remember your child’s first word? First sentence?
“See de moon!” That was my baby’s first complete sentence: A command sentence. She told me to look up into the dark night sky. She wanted her mommy to see a certain object that had hypnotized her with its bright light–The Moon. And that little cookie even put an article (the) in that first sentence. Correct grammar at 14 months. My buttons popped! But I don’t get the credit for that great grammatical moment. The credit for this first sentence firmly goes to Margaret Wise Brown’s seminal picture book (you already know which one)…Goodnight, Moon.
Yes! The wonder of early literature. A small child hears a story, song or rhyme over and over (we engaged in such things every day all day). As her ability to speak emerges, she goes right to those very words that she has heard repeatedly.
Recently someone asked, “What can babies learn from story hour? Aren’t they too little to get anything out of it?” Oh, Grasshopper, sit at my knee. Let me tell you the tales of those babies who clearly, actively pay attention and focus, of that moment when parents and even The Story Lady get to hear the words come together! Clapping in rhythm, smiling with pure delight, little baby heads nodding to melodies. These babes are engaged, learning, connected to their surroundings, absorbing!
Community-based Baby & Toddler programs in libraries, day care centers, recreation centers and even bookshops serve a vital role in early childhood development. Let’s all support and speak out in favor of high quality children’s literature programming for all of young families. This kind of priority sets a tone for a community. Good libraries, good services for families create a place where people want to live, where arts and culture flourish, even for the youngest folks in the town.
If you see your local library in the midst of program cutbacks, speak out! Don’t let that happen in your town. We can all “Walk Like an Egyptian” to advance change and reform where we live. How? Talk to your Library Director. Talk to your local government officials. Join your Friends of the Library. Launch a public demonstration to “Save Our Children’s Library!” and “Save Family Programs in Our Community!”
For almost 40 years I’ve been working on this stuff in my town. So, it’s time, younguns. Step up. Take this shovel and dig! You’ll be glad you did.