Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrating Native American History Month-November 2010

With a goal to create cultural and global awareness, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's International Advisory Council Celebrated Native American History Month. Our own council member, Barbara Locklear shared stories, history and culture from the Lumbee Tribe at the Plaza Midwood location and two community sites that serve senior adult. The programs were excellent, entertaining, informative and well received.

First Sememster of Jump Start Reading Ends

The first semester of the Jump Start Reading program has ended and the results are in! Our surveys and evaluations indicate that parents and caregivers gained valuable information regarding the importance of early literacy and children's success when entering school. By the end of the six months, our program coordinators, Veronica Corral, Amy Kukla and Emily Little stated that children were able to demonstrate the six pre-reading skills and parents and caregivers were able to implement these skills when reading to children. Below our program coordinators share some of the highlights from the program:

  • ALL of the children at this site (even the 2 year old's) now know what letter their first name starts with!
  • All the parents have been extremely appreciative of the meals and incentives. I do not think there was ever a leftover piece of pizza with this group! Everyone was very excited about the books and the children continue to talk about them when I go back to visit.
  • I just wanted to mention that the highlight was definitely taking seventy program participants and their families on the bus to the Library. For many of them it was the first time going to the library. They all seemed to enjoy it and many checked out books for the first time.

Families participating in the program were connected to their neighborhood library. This will allow them to continue the learning experience after the formal program ends. In addition, each child participating in the program (approximately 105 children) received a home library consisting of 15 books, which will support their current and growing reading comprehension level. Parents participating in the program received all the program incentives, which included book bags for each family, meals at each of the parent workshops, gift certificates from a local store and certificates of completion.

The next semester for Jump Start Reading begins January 2011. Staff from three of our branch locations will be assisting the department with program implementation. During this session, we will be offering three workshops instead of six. Our parents, caregivers and staff indicated that this would be practical while still being effective. We will keep you posted as we continue to, "Jump Start Reading at Home!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Roberto is extremely excited about having an e-mail account and using e-mail for the first time. Roberto is 76 years old, and he is participating in the American Library Association, Dollar General, The American Dream Starts @ Your Library program located at our Sugar Creek Branch. Roberto has already taken four, two-hour classes and he and his wife, were excited about the last class, which was setting up and using e-mail. Roberto said this was the first time he has ever had an e-mail account and the first person he was going to contact is his son.

Our new instructor, Sabino Nevarez Garcia has done an excellent job creating a comfortable learning environment for Roberto, his wife Maria and the rest of the students in the class. Originally a teacher from Durango, Mexico; Mr. Garcia uses his experience and talent to help his students increase their job and communication opportunities by learning the skills needed to use the Internet. Mr. Garcia also teaches at our Main Library location and another class is held at the Latin American Coalition.

The homework assignment for last week class was to send an e-mail to the instructor. Our pre-class evaluation indicated that students participating in the program do not have a computer in their home. Roberto and Marie will have to come back to the library to use one of the public access computers to complete their assignment and we hope this connection will assist them in becoming regular library users.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visit to the Library

We are now three months into our six month Jump Start Reading at Home program. Our teachers, children and families have been introduced to Vocabulary; knowing the names of things, Print Motivation; being interested in and enjoying books, and Print Awareness; noticing print, knowing how to handle a book and knowing how to follow the words on a page. In addition, all programs participants received fifteen books to begin their at-home library. (The 2001 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study states that students from homes with more than ten children's books had significantly higher average reading scores than scores of students from homes with ten or fewer books.)

To continue to expose families and teachers to reading, books and literacy, all program participants will tour their neighborhood library. This is a very important element of the program. By taking our families and teachers to the library, we are given them tools and resources to be self-sufficient and empowered to continue to support their child's early literacy education.

To make this experience possible, we have to identify and remove barriers that will allow all families to participate in the library visit and tour. During a recent visits to Plaza Midwood library, the transportation barrier was removed by purchasing bus passes for all program participants. Over fifty people took the bus to the library. The pictures below illustrate the Bilingual Specialist, Veronica Corral organizing the group to board the bus as well as the library visit and tour. Follow the link below to view all the photos of this library experience.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jump Start Reading at Home Print Motivation

When the county car pulls into the parking lot of the Park Apartment Clubhouse, parents and children know it is time for Miss Veronica and the library program. Twenty-three children and their mothers gathered in the activity room to hear stories and participate in music and reading activities that encouraged interest and enjoyment of books. The building block for this session was “Print Motivation.” According to the American Library Association, Every Child Ready to Read program, “Children who enjoy being read to will want to learn how to read.” It is a challenge to measure enjoyment but the clapping, smiles, laughter and program participation lets Miss Veronica know that her audience enjoyed the stories.

During this session, families enjoyed the stories; The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read McDonald, Whose Nose? by Jeannette Rowe and Jump Frog Jump by Robert Kalan. Parents also received information on Spanish language computer classes offered at our Hickory Grove location. As the program ended, parents and children helped Miss Veronica carry her material to the car and they prepared for their next session, which will include a visit to their neighborhood library.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lifelong Learning

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library supports lifelong learning for learners of all ages. These experiences take place within the library walls as well as in the community. Dot Siler, the newest member of the Community Engagement Outreach Team, but not new to the library system, has over twenty years of experience bringing library services to the community. A significant amount of this time has been dedicated to bringing library services and resources to older adults. Dot’s patrons rave about her programs. The secret to Dot’s success is knowing her audience, asking them what they need and want and engaging them in the creating the programs.

Dot’s program repertoire is nothing less than phenomenal. Older adults have learned how to use laptops to gain information about Medicare as well as learn how to keep up with grandchildren through e-mail. Her seniors learned about growing their own herbs and participated in numerous memory programs that support healthy aging. In July, older adults from the PALS adult day care and the Beatte Rae Thomas Park and Recreation Center senior program celebrated Beatrix Potter (July 28, 1866) and Ernest Hemingway’s (July 21, 1899) birthdays. Patrons listened to stories from the authors and they created a celebration art piece honoring the author’s contribution to literacy.

This month, seniors are looking forward to Dot Siler’s author program. She has arranged for Michelle Bowman, author of Church Folk and More Church Folk to visit five library and four community locations. Miss Bowman’s library location schedule is below. Come to one of our locations and meet the author Michele Bowman and the staff member that put it all together, Dot Siler!

• Freedom Regional Library-Monday, August 16-Time 1:00pm
• Independence Regional Library-Monday , August 16-Time 6:30pm
• Main Library-Tuesday, August 17-Time: 12:30pm
• Hickory Grove Library-Tuesday-August 17-Time: 5:30pm
• University City Regional Library-August 18-Time 12:00pm

Friday, July 23, 2010

Storytime in Spanish

Every Wednesday morning our Bilingual Outreach Coordinator, Veronica Corral, goes out in the community to hold a storytime in Spanish, focusing on early literacy. As you can see, her sessions attract quite a crowd! Last week drew over 30 participants including several moms and kids of all ages, although Veronica’s focus is on children ages birth through 5.

It might sound like no small feat to keep the attention of so many children, but Veronica was quite the entertaining storyteller and the kids were eager to participate.

This session focused on the early literacy building block of vocabulary, or knowing the names of things. As she read aloud, Veronica explained certain words the children might be unfamiliar with, using synonyms that might be more familiar.
Another way to build your child’s vocabulary is just to talk to your child more, using many words and a variety of words and explaining words that might be new. Also, you can expand on things your child says, encouraging him or her to speak in complete sentences. Reading books with different vocabulary from normal conversation helps, and remember, language skills grow faster if your child hears positive feedback, so be encouraging while keeping things fun!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Print is Everywhere!

Last Tuesday evening, Amy Kukla returned to Pride and Joy Daycare for a parent workshop, again focusing on the print awareness module of our Jump Start Reading at Home program. Amy explained that print awareness is knowing that print is everywhere and knowing how to follow print on a page. Parents learned tips on little ways in everyday life to help their children become more aware of print, such as making a list together with kids before going shopping, and pointing out the signs of different stores that you shop at, including the sale signs and the words on different items once in the store.

To help kids learn to follow print on a page, Amy shared tips parents could use when reading a book together with their child, including pointing out the words on a page as they are read aloud, and encouraging the child to help turn the pages, to teach him or her how to handle a book and that in English we read from left to right.

Amy encouraged parents to have fun as they explore the world of print with their children, and suggested fun print awareness activities to do together, such as making a photo scrapbook of pictures taken on a "scavenger hunt" of print in the community - photos of familiar street signs, the signage of neighborhood stores, etc. Print is everywhere - have fun exploring it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Outreach for Refugees

Every Wednesday, Amy Kukla reads aloud to refugee children while Refugee Support Services of the Carolinas connects their parents to information about Medicaid, food stamps, schools, and other resources to help them become self-sufficient and empower them to thrive in the United States. But Amy has done more than just keep the kids busy. She has worked to teach skills to prepare them for school here in America, and has seen some remarkable transformations already.

The children were not always as engaged in the storytimes as they are now. According to Rachel Humphries of Refugee Support Services, when Amy first started working with them, the kids were too afraid to participate at all. They wouldn't go near or even look at her. In her first session, Amy sat down and sang sing-along songs by herself.

But gradually, both the children and their parents began to warm up to her as she began to gain their trust. At last week's storytime, little ones climbed in her lap as she read aloud. More than just a fun distraction, Amy's sessions teach the children concepts they'll need to know when they enter school, such as the names of colors, how to handle a book, and how to behave and participate in a storytime. Parents learn about the important role they can play in their children's education, and of the tools and resources the library offers to help them achieve success.

Of course, the kids also get to pick up some fun cultural knowledge along the way, including learning English words for the sounds animals make, classic nursery rhymes, and even how to do the hokey-pokey!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jump Start Reading at Home

Last week, Amy Kukla read for two storytime sessions at Pride and Joy Daycare. This time, the focus was on print awareness. Reading to a group of 1-2 year olds (above), Amy tracked her finger under the words as she read them aloud - this is to help children begin to understand that the words printed on a page have meaning. At the end of the session, she passed out books to the children just to build their experience in knowing how to handle a book and turn pages.

During her session with the 3-4 year olds (right), Amy began to open a book upside down. The kids caught her right away - a great sign that they have an understanding of how books work. Reading logs were passed out at both sessions - children can keep track of the hours they read or are read to, earn points and redeem them for prizes at the Library.

Both sessions were kept fun and exciting by starting and ending with a sing-along, as well as short playtimes with toy rattles and a flannel board that tied in to one of the stories. Above all, reading should be FUN!

Stay tuned - later this week, Amy will share more print awareness tips at a parent workshop at Pride and Joy, to show parents how to jump start their children's reading at home. For more on Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Jump Start Reading at Home program, visit the program blog at cmlearlyliteracy.blogspot.com.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Spanish-language Basic Computer Skills classes at the Latin American Coalition & Cornelius Library

Since you’re visiting this blog, chances are you’ve probably got some pretty good computer skills – maybe you even take them for granted. But what if, due to language and other barriers, you’d never had the chance to develop those skills?

That’s where our Spanish-language basic computer skills classes come in to help. Funded through grants from Dollar General and the American Library Association, the program starts with the very basics – how to turn on the computer, how to use a mouse, etc. – and covers material all the way up to using a flash drive, e-mail attachments and the internet. Instructor Kristina Bergan instructs the classes, which are offered at two locations: the Latin American Coalition and the Cornelius Library.

Reyna (right) enrolled in the class at the Latin American Coalition because she wants to pursue the better job opportunities available to those who know how to use a computer.

Andres (left) has family in other countries. He already had an e-mail account, but wanted to learn more skills so that he’d be able to understand and use it better. After some basic typing exercises, he went on to learn how to send e-mails and even attach his own photos to share with his relatives.
At the Cornelius branch, a married couple, Cornelio and Elma (above), took the class together. Cornelio wanted to gain computer skills because he is asked to use one at work. Elma enrolled because she said teachers give homework and projects to their kids, expecting parents to be able to help their children look up information. She also wanted to learn how to access the website of the school her children attend.

Victoria (right) also thought it was very important to know how to use her kids' school websites, but mostly she wanted to build her computer skills in order to become more independent. She didn't like always having to rely on others to provide her with answers whenever she had a question - she wanted to be able to access the answers herself. "You can look for information about anything, using a computer. You don't have to ask anyone - it's all right there." (Translated from Spanish)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Storytime for Adults?

In a way, yes! A key part of our Jump Start Reading at Home early literacy program is our parent workshop series, in which we help inform and assist parents in their critical role as their child’s first teacher. Last night at Seigle Avenue Church, Yvonne Thomas lead a workshop where she modeled storytelling skills for parents. This week’s emphasis was on vocabulary building. Studies show that children who enter school with larger vocabularies do better academically and are better readers, so Yvonne shared some tips with the parents on how to get their children engaged in learning more words.

Dialogic reading (asking “what” questions) is a great way to teach vocabulary and help your child give more complete descriptions about what he or she sees. As she read the story aloud, Yvonne paused to give advice and examples of what kinds of questions parents could ask while reading the same story aloud to their own children. In general, some vocabulary-building storytime tips include:
  • Point out the names of things your child may not know
  • Ask "what" questions - like "What's this?" or "What's this called?"
  • Follow answers with more questions
  • Repeat what your child says, to reinforce correct answers
  • Help your child with answers as needed
  • Ask open-ended questions, and ask your child to say more
  • Expand what your child says, to fill in the little words and add detail
  • Follow your child's interests
  • Have fun!