Thursday, February 24, 2011

Get that baby a book!

I can't tell you how much I enjoy seeing a young couple timidly perusing the children's department for the first time with a new baby in tow.  As they slowly walk down the aisles, fondling old covers and silently mouthing titles of many long-forgotten treasures, you begin to sense their anticipation of one day being able to share their favorite stories with the infant in their arms.  Although these wonderful people have answered the subliminal call (of which I believe both parks and libraries emit to families with young children) to go to the library, it has been my experience that many new parents initially find reading to infants somewhat awkward.  It is the librarian, who serves not only as a specialist in children's literature, but also as a counselor of sorts, who encourages parents to put aside their hesitations and pick up a book.  Librarians are notorious for helping parents to understand the value of reading to their children, they provide helpful information about the sorts of expectations that are developmentally appropriate for infants, and they outfit families with amazing books to explore.  This didactic interaction is crucial not only because it has the potential to make a lasting impact in the life of the child, but also because it highlights the continued importance of libraries and librarians in society.

A recent study conducted in Canada sheds new light on the linguistic development of infants and corroborates previous findings heralding the importance of implementing strong early literacy programs in libraries.  Check out the study here and perhaps it will serve to invigorate your approach to infant programming.