Sunday, January 13, 2008

Early Literacy @ Your Library

Okay, who here has looked at ELSIE? If you're at all concerned with early literacy, you should check it out. ELSIE is the Early Literacy Storytime Ideas Exchange, created and maintained by the wonderful people at the Minneapolis Public Library. I love ELSIE and I use it all the time, especially now that I'm designing the first of several early literacy workshops that my department is presenting over the next couple of months. ELSIE is a database of picture books that promote one or more of the six early literacy skills denoted by the Every Child Ready to Read initiative. More about ECRR in a minute.

Not only is ELSIE a great resource for planning early literacy storytimes, displays, and booklists, but it's a great resource for storytime in general. Each title is given a short review and ideas about how to present it and how you can use the book to develop early literacy skills. Do you have a book and you're wondering how to use it to promote early literacy? Look it up. Are you looking for books with some great vocabulary or rhymes? You can search by the early literacy skill you want to promote. Are you bored with all your normal storytime choices? Browse the list and you're sure to find some fun, new reads that will be perfect for your storytime. And ELSIE includes more than books. You can find songs, rhymes, and fingerplays on there, too. AND it includes materials in Spanish as well as English.

So, yes. Go check out ELSIE. If you provide storytimes for preschoolers, it's guaranteed to be a great resource.

Want to know more about early literacy and Every Child Ready to Read? Read on.

In September, my department was lucky enough to have a trainer come for a whole day and give us training on Every Child Ready to Read, the ALSC and PLA initiative for promoting early literacy. What is early literacy, you ask? Early literacy is what kids know about reading and writing before they start learning how to read and write. What is Every Child Ready to Read? Well, that link to the homepage will give you more info than I can give you here, but basically it's an initiative to include information about early literacy in library programs and workshops for parents and caregivers of young children. It's a way of incorporating brain and child development research into programs and workshops. It's a way of providing proof that what we librarians do for young kids is so, so important. I know that. You know that. Every Child Ready to Read gives us the tools to let that research support what we do every day... in storytime, in talking to parents about reading to their kids, in selecting books for toddlers, and so many other things.

In late January, I'm presenting our library's first (hopefully of many) preschool educator workshop. Our topic is early literacy, especially how preschool teachers can promote and develop it in their classrooms. My library has registered to be a provider of Continuing Professional Development Units (registration was much easier than I thought it would be, actually!), so any teacher that comes will earn one CPDU. We'll provide them with information and activities they can use in their classrooms. We'll have tons of book suggestions. Hopefully it will go off without a hitch and the teachers will feel like they got something out of it. In the coming months, we're also offering parent workshops and going out to a local hospital to offer a workshop for new parents.

Want to know more? One of my favorite resources for early literacy storytimes is Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz. The ECRR website has lots of resources for parent/caregiver workshops. And, of course, you should check out ELSIE. Anyone else have some early literacy tips or resources??