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Librarian reading book during Storytime

Storytime is back!

Our Youth Services librarians are back online, bringing families stories, songs, and storytime magic to foster of a love of reading and promote the development of early literacy skills.

From June 7 – July 28, we will offer interactive storytime on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. on either Facebook Live (Mondays; no registration required) or Zoom (Tuesdays and Wednesdays; registration required). Find all the details here: https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/kids/storytime-online/

Check out a summer Storytime Kit! Packed with activity scarves, music makers, bubbles, song and rhyme sheets, and other items, our Baby/Toddler Storytime Kits and Family Storytime Kits are designed to enhance your storytime experience and provide continuous opportunities for early literacy fun at home. It is not necessary to have a Storytime Kit to participate, but it does up the fun factor! Pick up a kit at the Youth Services desk starting Tuesday, June 1, while supplies last.

New this summer! We are thrilled to partner with Family Resource Center to offer “Practical Parenting” facilitated discussions after Baby/Toddler storytime on Tuesdays. A parent educator will present a brief parenting topic and lead an interactive discussion. Come meet other parents, discuss common parenting issues, and get your questions answered.

If you have any questions, please contact Youth Services at 715-839-5007 or ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

Dabble Box Joins the BookBike for Summer Fun!


This summer, the library’s BookBike will join forces with our Dabble Box makerspace to visit area parks and help locals connect with library services and materials.

The library’s Dabble Box room—a DIY makerspace offering educational STEAM projects and equipment—is on hiatus while the library is using its temporary location. However, Dabble Box staff will be venturing outdoors this summer to offer creative play and projects through a rotating selection of activities such as coding and robotics, water coloring, button making, and more.

Weather permitting, beginning June 1, the BookBike and the Dabble Box will be in Owen Park on Mondays, 9 a.m.–noon; and in Carson Park on Wednesdays, 9 a.m.–noon.

Two New Permanent StoryWalks®!

The library’s Youth Services team is delighted to announce the installation of two all-new, permanent StoryWalks® in Eau Claire. The walks were created in partnership with the City of Eau Claire’s Parks & Forestry Division and made possible through a COVID Recovery Grant from United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley.

StoryWalks® combine literacy with physical activity, placing large, colorful book pages at regular intervals along a walking route, encouraging users to walk (or run or skip or hop) as they read the book and/or enjoy the pictures.

Andy Neborak, Executive Director of the United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, says, “We’re honored to support this project. The StoryWalk® project advances the development and learning of children and also supports the mental and physical well-being of these children and their families. These were all primary goals of our recovery grant process. After a long year, people are eager to get outside and enjoy a wonderful Wisconsin summer.”

Open now, locals will find the walks in Owen Park and Carson Park. The Carson Park walk is located around the main playground. The Owen Park walk can be found along the Chippewa Valley State Trail, starting near the playground. Each park features a different story, which will be switched out on a regular basis.

Extra, extra! The library’s popular BookBike and Dabble Box team will be visiting the StoryWalks® this summer so you can check out books, sign up for a library card, register for the Summer Library Program, grab a take and make bag, ask reference questions, and more. Beginning June 1, the BookBike and the Dabble Box will be in Owen Park on Mondays, 9 a.m.–noon; and in Carson Park on Wednesdays, 9 a.m.–noon, weather permitting. Learn more about the BookBike here.

Try it out with your littles! Take a pic of your family enjoying the StoryWalks® and tag @ecpubliclibrary on social media or email it to Youth Services (listed below). We may feature your photo on our website and social media pages.

Contact Youth Services at 715-839-5007 or ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us to learn more. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Storywalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.

Meet the Parenting Collection

Parents and caregivers, let me introduce you to Youth Services’ new(ish) parenting collection!

Launched at the end of 2019, this collection contains materials for both children and adults on a range of family topics. You’ll find picture books for children about welcoming a new baby, potty training, adoption, divorce, and managing emotions. You’ll also find informational books for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-8 that focus on four main categories:

Click on the links above to see book suggestions in each of those categories.

Browse the whole parenting collection online, or visit the library in person during our appointment-free library service hours. Find our current schedule here.

Building Brains by Playing with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the fourth post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of playing.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” –Fred Rogers

Research has consistently shown the positive impacts of play on child development. Through play, children practice and develop social skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and motor skills.

Play takes many forms and evolves throughout a child’s early years. Exploring their surroundings, building with blocks, creating art or music, dancing, and pretending are just a handful of the myriad ways in which young children play.

If you’re like the average parent, time and energy are precious commodities. Rest assured that setting aside just a few minutes a day to play with your child will strengthen your relationship and yield benefits that extend far beyond the years they’re interested in pretending you’re a dinosaur.

Make the most of playtime with these tips:

  • Let your child take the lead.
  • Make observations (“You built a structure with 7 blocks.”).
  • Ask open-ended questions (“What are you making?”).
  • Pose challenges (“I wonder what would happen if…”).
  • Focus your praise on their effort, rather than the outcome. This is key to developing a growth mindset.
  • Set up invitations to play by arranging a few enticing materials in a play space for your child to discover.
  • Add variety. Take it outside, add movement, create art, make a sensory bin, read a book and pretend to be the characters afterward, etc.

Want some fresh ideas for playful activities to enjoy with your young child? Check out this list of books from our parenting collection that will inspire YOU to ask your child, “Wanna play with me?”

Storytime OnDemand with Miss Kelly

It is fun to tell a story, but did you know that you can tell a picture, too? Join Ms. Kelly for Monkey’s Picture, a silly story about a monkey who makes a gift for his mama.

The Animal Antics full storytime line-up includes:

  • Monkey’s Picture
  • Roly Poly
  • Put Your Hands Up High
  • Tiny Tim
  • Going to Kentucky

When you are done quacking like a duck and swimming like a turtle, be sure to check out our other Storytime OnDemand and Fingerplay Fun videos!

STEAM Resources

If you’re looking for some fun and interactive experiments to introduce, expand, or enhance your kids’ knowledge in the areas of STEAM (or if you’re simply looking for a fun afternoon project!), check out the links below for a wide variety of STEAM-related e-books through Hoopla.  There are activity books for young children through teen to support Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. E-materials may be checked out from Hoopla with your Eau Claire library card.

Quick Links

Building Brains by Singing with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the third post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of singing.

No musical training? No worries! It is your voice that soothes and comforts your child, describes the world to your child, lets your child know they are loved. Rest assured, your singing voice can do all of that, too. The benefits of singing and engaging your child in musical experiences extend across all domains of development, including the following:

Language/Literacy

  • Singing fosters phonological awareness, the ability to hear and manipulate units of sound.
  • It reinforces and develops vocabulary, especially if unfamiliar words are explained.

Social/Emotional

  • Singing to or with your child is a positive and nurturing interaction that strengthens your bond.
  • It can ease transitions between activities and help a less desirable activity be more fun.
  • It can calm a fussy baby or toddler (and a hardworking parent).

Cognitive

  • Singing and related musical activities promote the development of crucial executive functioning skills. These skills are deemed essential for school readiness and include a child’s ability to focus attention, utilize working memory, and exercise self-control. Learn how to use music and other everyday activities to foster these skills in your child from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

Physical

  • Young children strengthen muscles and develop gross motor skills as they move to music.
  • Young children develop fine motor skills when they practice fingerplays (e.g., Itsy Bitsy Spider, Where Is Thumbkin, etc.).

Tips

Add more music to your family’s routine by trying one or more of the following activities:

  • Make up a lullaby for your child. Find inspiration with the endearing Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project.
  • Insert your child’s name into familiar tunes, like “Old [Mateo] Had a Farm.”
  • Share fingerplays and action rhymes with your child. Check out the library’s Fingerplay Fun videos to expand your repertoire.
  • Make a shaker, like these. Or these!
  • Make a drum set with pots, pans, food storage containers, and wooden spoons for mallets.
  • Make a playful craft microphone for you and your child, and put on a show.
  • Plan a family dance party or a family lip syncing contest.
  • Read musical books! View a handy dandy musical book list here.
  • Read nursery rhymes! View a handy dandy nursery rhyme book list here.

Enjoy singing and engaging in other musical experiences with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices here: talking, reading, and playing.

Additional Resources 

Baby Music: The Soundtrack to Your Child’s Development

A resource from UNICEF on how making music, not just listening to it, impacts child development. Includes a link to a related Mini Parenting Masterclass (5 minutes).

Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

An article from NAEYC and Zero to Three on how music supports each domain of development and what early childhood professionals can do to enhance early learning experiences with music.

Building Brains by Reading with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the second post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of reading.

In “Becoming a Nation of Readers,” a landmark 1985 report, experts declared that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” The positive effects of regularly reading aloud to your children are numerous and include the following:

  • builds connections in their brain
  • develops their language and vocabulary skills
  • supports their social/emotional development
  • strengthens their relationship with you
  • teaches them about themselves and the world in which they live

There is simply no denying the incredible and dynamic power of reading aloud to your children.

But with so many books and so little time, where does a parent begin? A great answer to this question is only three words long: your public library. Library staff is knowledgeable about the collections and eager to help your kiddos find books that match their interests and abilities. Reach out to us by phone (715-839-5007) or email (ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us) to start a conversation.

In the meantime, check out our staff curated book lists on a variety of topics for a variety of readers on our website and on our Bibliocommons profile. You’ll find great books to share with babies, toddler-tough picture books, funny stories, books for dinosaur fans, not your average lift-the-flap interactive stories, and so much more.

Okay, I’ve got some great books. Now what?

The greatest benefits from reading aloud can be achieved when you and your child are engaged in the reading experience. Enhance your child’s engagement and your own enjoyment by utilizing these tips:

  1. Read with expression! This may take some practice, but your kids will love it! 100% money back guarantee! Here are some vocal contrasts to add expressive flair:
    • Play with your pitch. Experiment with using a high voice and low voice to add depth to a character.
    • Adjust your volume. Perhaps you’ve reached a suspenseful part of the story and want to speak quietly for dramatic effect. Perhaps a character is surprised and speaks at an elevated volume.
    • Consider your speed. Avoid rushing. Relish each word. Make use of pauses and silence. Read quickly only when the action of the story calls for it. In general, a slower rate of speed gives your child more time to process what they are hearing and seeing on the page.
    • Experiment with your tone. Play around with the quality of sounds your voice can make. Gravelly, airy, nasal, etc.
  2. Be interactive! Invite your child to actively participate in the read aloud experience by doing the following:
    • Discuss the cover art and illustrations. Remember, while you focus on the text, your child is “reading” and deriving meaning from the illustrations. Talk with your child about the art and how it relates to the story.
    • Ask open ended questions. These enable a child to demonstrate their understanding and practice their narrative skills. Here are some examples:
      • What do you notice? They may observe something you haven’t yet noticed.
      • Why do you think he feels sad? This can help build emotional intelligence.
      • What do you think is going to happen? This is an opportunity to use critical thinking skills.
    • Include your children by inviting them to:
      • Do the actions. Many picture books include bold actions. Don’t just read it, do it!
      • “Read” the repeated phrases. Your child will quickly learn any repeated refrains in a story. After two or three times, start the phrase and let your child finish it.
      • Finish the sentence in a familiar text. Likewise, your child’s favorite books will soon be memorized. Invite them to finish the sentence or even “read” the book to you.
      • Complete the rhyme. Rhyming books are great for developing phonological awareness—an early literacy skill. Start the rhyme, but pause at the end to see if your child can finish it.
    • Discuss the book afterward. What did your child like? Dislike? What was their favorite part? What do they think the characters will do next?

Reading aloud with your children every day is beneficial for their development and can be both joyful and rewarding for you and your child. For more information and ideas on this topic, check out these great additional resources:

Enjoy reading with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices here: talking, singing, and playing.

Building Brains by Talking With Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the first in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of talking.

Your talk has the power to build your child’s brain. While it is important to talk to your child, research shows it is more impactful to talk with your child. This is true even for infants, whose crying and smiling, cooing and babbling is part of early language and social development! How can you effectively talk with your baby, toddler, or preschool-aged child? The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University created a handy 5-step process for engaging your young children in back-and-forth or “serve and return” conversations.

  1. Notice the serve and share the child’s focus of attention.
  2. Return the serve by supporting and encouraging.
  3. Give it a name!
  4. Take turns…and wait. Keep the interaction going back and forth.
  5. Practice endings and beginnings.

Check out examples and learn how each step in this process impacts child development by visiting the Center on the Developing Child.

Another useful model for talking with your children comes from the University of Chicago’s Thirty Million Words (TMW) program, where researchers have developed the 3T’s for communicating with children and building their brains.

The 3T’s are simply:

  1. Tune in.
  2. Talk more.
  3. Take turns.

Notice how the first step in the 3T’s and the serve and return models aren’t about talking at all. The first step is not about getting your child to pay attention to something you are interested in. Importantly, the first step is about observing your child and tuning into what it is that they are focused on. Once you discover their focus of attention, you can share in that experience with them by talking about it. TMW offers practical strategies for communicating with babies, toddlers, and two’s and three’s that include the following:

  1. Describe what your child is seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, or smelling.
  2. Narrate your activities with your child. “Don’t just do it, talk your child through it!”
  3. Book Share! Talk about the illustrations, what the characters are doing/feeling, etc.
  4. Math Talk. Build early math concepts by discussing numbers, sizes, shapes, comparisons, etc.

For additional strategies and to see how they look in action, visit Thirty Million Words.

Lastly, while positive and responsive interactions are ideal for development, managing challenging behaviors is a normal part of parenting. Thankfully, the Family Resource Center offers a research-based parenting program called Triple P for all parents of children ages 0-12 that helps parents build strong relationships with their children, manage stress, and encourage healthy habits. Learn more by visiting the Family Resource Center.

Enjoy talking with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices in our blogs about reading, singing, and playing.