By Aaron Retherford
Kids don’t need to go to a prestigious preschool to be well prepared for kindergarten. They just have to head to their local libraries.
Most libraries in central Vermont provide programs that nourish young, developing minds and bodies.
Jaquith Public Library in Marshfield isn’t the only library in central Vermont with a weekly story time for young kids. But it provides the complete package.
Children’s librarian Sylvia Smith leads a weekly story time that is followed by a play group. Jaquith Public Library Director Susan Green said around 25-30 parents and children (birth to 4 years old) attend the program.
For the first 30 minutes, children listen to stories and may sing songs and participate in movement activities.
Smith also shares information with parents about the new children’s literature that has been released.
Green said the story time helps develop early literacy and encourages children to read because they get involved in the stories. It also gets children into the library to see what it has to offer. Children work on listening skills, language skills, and their movement skills. They also socialize with other kids, which is especially beneficial for families who cannot afford to send their children to preschool or daycare.
“It’s a chance for children to play together and learn together without having to spend money on expensive programs,” Green said.
After story time, the children go upstairs to playgroup where kids have the chance to do creative art projects and practice their fine motor skills. There is also a gym downstairs where kids can play with tricycles and all different types of balls in order to do activities that use the kids’ gross motor skills.
Jaquith Public Library also provides a healthy snack.
Green said the most important benefit is with the parents, however. They get a chance to socialize with other adults and maybe pick up new ideas on how to deal with different issues at home.
Generally, story times vary slightly from library to library. Robert Youngberg, Director of Ainsworth Public Library in Williamstown, said his library’s story hour doesn’t have a specific end time. Stories take around 30 minutes and craft time lasts for as long as children and parents want to work. The program is for kids from birth to 3, but Youngberg said they would accept anyone not in school.
Larger libraries like Kellogg-Hubbard in Montpelier are able to hold story time three days a week on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Waterbury Public Library offers multiple days of story time – for babies and toddlers on Mondays and for pre-schoolers on Fridays.
For days and times of story times at the library nearest you, including the libraries in Barre, Randolph, Chelsea, Groton, and Plainfield, check out The WORLD’s ongoing events calendar.