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

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)