LIVERPOOL - “The early years are such a crucial period for development and lay the foundation for the skills we will build as we grow,” says Terri Faber, executive director of the Queens Learning Network in Liverpool.
Even just the act of reading to a child at a young age, says Faber, allows them to get comfortable with books, to interact with them and have them as a regular part of every day.
With this in mind, the Queens Learning Network offers a free program for children and their caregivers every Monday at the Queens Family Resource Centre. The aim is to read together, play games, sing songs, have snacks, make crafts and celebrate literacy.
The program, Faber says, is geared towards children aged three to five and is meant for them to participate in it with their caregivers, whether it be a parent, grandparent or babysitter. Having the program designed this way allows time for children and the grownups with them to share time together reading, playing and developing literacy skills, says Faber.
Everything is based around a theme of the day. Some themes the group has covered include being your yourself, bedtime, sharing, seasons, and Halloween. Each week, free books are given to all the participants.
The family literacy program has been running for several years; however, this year, Faber says there are seven families involved. She says this is a high for them compared to recent years.
Faber stresses the importance of reading to children. She says when doing so at home, there are a few easy tips to follow.
“Although reading tips vary with age, with our three to five age group, getting them to guess what the story is about based on pictures is good skill builder, as is using rhyming and repetition in stories to keep interest,” says Faber.
She also says kids like to rhyme and be able to have a familiar part of the story repeated so they can read along too. Whether they can decode the words or not, they can anticipate what's coming.
“It gives them a successful feeling to be able to access the story in some way,” she says.
Faber says some of the program favourite books have been Pout, Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, the Don't Let the Pigeon books (a series by Mo Willems), A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon, Elephant and Piggie books also by Mo Willems, and Barbara Reid’s Picture a Tree.
The family literacy will begin again on Jan. 8 at the Queens Family Resource Centre from 3 to 4:30 p.m. There are no fees to participate in the program.