Green River Star -

By Becky Iwen
Sweetwater County Library System 

Small steps have a big impact on early literacy


According to the American Library Association, in the past 20 years, numerous studies have exposed a startling truth: by the time children from low-income families reach the age four, they will have heard 30 million fewer words than their more advantaged peers. This word gap has a profound influence on a child’s ability to succeed in school and later in life.

The Sweetwater County Library is joining libraries and partner organizations across the country to help bridge this word gap with a new initiative: Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play.

Designed to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of enriching communication with their babies, this public-awareness campaign is kicking off with a series of lively, inviting posters that will be placed above changing tables in the library and throughout the Youth Services area.

Filled with ideas for age-appropriate games, rhymes, and songs, these posters offer caregivers instant, fun ways to boost children’s language base and build all-important pathways for learning.

As caregivers to young children I hope that you know that small steps have a big impact. The frequency and quality of communication that a child experiences directly shape his or her brain development.

The opportunities to bridge this 30 million word gap can be as simple as talking to your baby or young child as you drive across town. As you drive point out the different things that you see including details like colors, shapes, sounds and letters.

Another way to build vocabulary is to visit the Sweetwater County Library for Toddler Time and Story Time.

Each Monday at 10 a.m. we host Toddler Time. Designed for children 0 to 2 years of age, Toddler Time encourages learning through stories, finger plays, baby sign language, shared reading and songs.

This lap-sit program supports early literacy and language skills in infants and babies. Every exposure to seeing or hearing words is laying the groundwork for future skills. Older siblings are welcome and encouraged to be a great example to younger siblings.

By attending Story Time on Tuesday and Wednesday your pre-readers will improve literacy skills that they need for their upcoming preschool and kindergarten years. 

Story Time features longer books that are accompanied by a variety of activities, including simple crafts, flannel boards, rhymes and songs. Along with incorporating letters, numbers, sign language and many other common core and early literacy skills, Story Time plays an important role in introducing children to the magic of books. Story Time is at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays.

Each week we explore a different theme as we encourage learning and literacy.

The library is here to support your early-learning efforts with your children. Make sure to take advantage of these free programs.


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