Educating Young Minds at the Library
How do you keep a room full of energetic, inquisitive two‐year‐olds focused and learning throughout the school day? For Bridget Heffernan the answer is simple read them a Library book.
A teacher at the La Jolla preschool, Imagine Kids Planet, Bridget relies on the library to help keep her young students entertained and engaged throughout the day. With library resources, Bridget provides a solid introduction to reading and helps students gain motor and social skills. Working with a limited budget, Bridget visits the La Jolla/Riford Branch Library weekly to stock up on new children’s books for her class.
“For such young children, listening to a story is one of the primary ways they learn new information,” says Bridget. “Without the library I would not be able to supply my class with enough new books to help them grow and learn.”
Research confirms the importance of access to books to boost young children’s reading skills and improve their confidence. A 2009 report, America’s Early Childhood Literacy Gap, explains that the preschool years, “set the stage for all of later learning and adult functioning, as the developing brain triples in the first year alone and is virtually fully formed by the time a child enters kindergarten.”
When Bridget introduces a new subject to her students, she first turns to the library for materials and teaching ideas. For a recent lesson about Arctic animals, Bridget peaked interest with detailed picture books – helping her students better visualize the animals and sparking an imaginative discussion about what it would be like to visit the Arctic.
In addition to extensive children’s and early reader collections, San Diego Public Libraries hold dozens of story times each week in a variety of languages, including Spanish, Hebrew, Mandarin and sign language. During the summer months, young children can also participate in the library’s beloved Summer Reading Program, earning prizes as they read with their parents or teacher.
“Many children’s parents work during the day and are unable to bring their family to the library for free books or educational programs,” says La Jolla/Riford Branch Manager Catherine Greene. “For many, a class trip is their only library experience. Our story times and craft projects are favorites among young children and are a great supplement to class instruction. With many schools facing budget and school library cuts, these resources are even more crucial.”
“The library is such a fantastic resource for teachers and parents,” says Bridget, who often tells her student’s parents about upcoming story times and other events at their branch library. “And because I am so excited about reading, my students are now as well. They love getting the chance to discover a new book from the library.”