As children aged five and up prepare to head back to school, libraries throughout the Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) system are gearing up to begin fall storytimes for the under-five set.
And having served as a children’s librarian for almost three decades, the ORL’s Linda Youmans wants parents to understand the many benefits of storytime at the library.
“The live interaction of storytime, where we use songs and puppets and books, is still valid and perhaps even more important in this age of technology. It offers an opportunity to socialize for both children and adults,” Youmans explained. “For many babies it is their first chance to be in a group and they learn to share, have fun and make friends.”
All 29 libraries that comprise the ORL system host storytimes through the school year for children aged five-years and younger. Some larger branches such as Vernon, Kelowna, and Salmon Arm have programs specifically geared for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and many libraries also host special programs for pyjama storytimes in the early evenings, Lego clubs, and grandparents’ storytimes. Instilling a love of reading and literacy, and building a lifelong affinity for the public library, are all goals of these programs.
“Storytime activities such as singing, stretching and rhymes help children learn words and concepts that are the foundation of education,” Youmans added.
Library programs also give new parents a chance to interact and meet each other, and Youmans knows of cases where mothers have met at baby storytime sessions and are still friends as their children become teenagers.
“Storytimes are one of the few opportunities for men to socialize with other fathers and their children. It can also be a special bonding time between a parent and an older sibling after another baby comes joins the family.”
Fall storytimes at the ORL start during September. All are free and open to the public; some branches require registration due to limited space. To find out about storytime programming at your local library, visit their branch page at www.orl.bc.ca/branches .