Babies Need Words Every Day!

babies need words header

Babies Need Words!

It is critical that as librarians, we all work on bridging the 3o million word gap. I know.  When you hear 30 million words it seems almost insurmountable and certainly it seems out of your hand as a librarian.  But the fact is, we can start bridging that gap in our every day programs and interactions with kids. Throughout our libraries and communities we can model behavior for parents and caregivers on how they too can bridge that gap in simple and FUN ways.

BUT HOW DO YOU START! ALSC has your back!  ALSC has created Babies Need Words Every Day – a simple, engaging campaign that gives you and your library beautiful and FREE resources to start bridging this gap. Even better, ALSC has tied all of it into the five early literacy skills of: TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, PLAY.  Many of you probably already incorporate those practices into your storytimes, language to caregivers, and decoration in your library.  With Babies Need Words Every Day you can use that language to show caregivers that bridging the word gap really is simple.

ALSC is hosting an amazing blog tour through some of the best library blogs IN EXISTENCE to introduce this campaign in a hands-on, real life way. If you want tons of decorating ideas and program ideas, make sure you check out all the stops. The tour is also a chance to spotlight some of the 8 FREE POSTERS that are part of the initiative.

Today, I am sharing this awesome poster for PLAY!

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As many of you know, one of my library’s most popular programs is our Music & Movement.  We have four sessions a week at our main library and branch – each program has attendance between 30-70 people (sometimes more.)  Why?  Because it’s so much fun to use MUSIC to PLAY!  One of the things I love about this poster is that it really spotlights how singing and dancing are PLAY.  Too often, caregivers forget that things like singing songs to babies to soothe them or to help them with eating/sleeping are forms of PLAY and ways to develop literacy skills. ALSO THEY ARE FUN.  One of the parts I love the most about these posters is that it really shows how fun and easy bridging the gap can be.

We encourage caregivers to sing to their babies in a few important ways:

  • We model singing loudly and with joy. Look, the thing is – I am probably tone deaf.  I cannot carry a tune and I have a horrible voice.  But one of the most important things I do is sing loudly and with joy.  I model for caregivers that you don’t have to be Carrie Underwood – you just have to show your child that you love to sing and it’s a joy.  Get over your self-conscious.  Kids love to hear songs – they don’t care about pitch!
  • Related: don’t be embarrassed if you forget the words while you’re singing or doing rhymes.  Sometimes when I mess up (a familiar tune with new words, for instance) I will take a minute to stop and laugh and to tell the caregivers that it’s OK to get mixed up and start over.  I also tell them sometimes that happens when we sing familiar tunes (like Frère Jacques) with different sets of words but that’s OK, it helps our kids see that many words can match tunes, which helps them start to understand syllables and rhymes – important early literacy building blocks!
  • We encourage caregivers to sing in their native language/familiar folk songs from their own cultures.  We have a lot of caregivers who are English Language Learners, but we want to let them know that they can build their children’s literacy through singing and play in any language.  We share folksongs in other languages (like Ong Tal Sam, a Korean song about Spring) and encourage caregivers to sing.

This makes singing play and that’s a great step in helping babies build their word banks!

I can’t WAIT to hang these posters up all around my library both in our play and program areas and in our bathrooms. Did I mention THERE’S EIGHT OF THEM AND THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL AND FREEEEEE! (and in English and Spanish!)

Since we live in a smaller town. I also plan to take them around my community and hand them out to pediatrician’s offices and local day cares.  EVERYONE loves free posters and this is a great way to encourage caregivers to engage in the early literacy practices in a fun way while bridging that gap – and it makes them think of the library too.

ALSC has also created a booklist, a talking points guide, a press release, a letter to possible community partners and more.  AND IT’S ALL FREE.  Check it out on their Babies Need Words site (which also has all the posters in different sizes.)

Make sure you check out all the stops on the Babies Need Words blog tour – I promise you will come away with tons of new ideas. (and you’ll find some new bloggers to inspire you – so honored to be in this awesome company!)  Thank you so much to the ALSC  Early Childhood Programs and Services committee for organizing this tour, especially their splendid chair, Brooke Newberry.

AND an extra thank you to ALSC for launching this initiative – I’m so proud to be an ALSC member because they not only care about kids but create fun, useful, beautiful projects like this. You can find out more about ALSC (and how to join) at their website.

What do YOU think about Babies Need Words?  How do you think you might use these awesome resources at your library or in your community? What fun ways have you found to encourage your patrons and caregivers to TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, AND PLAY at your library as they bridge the word gap? Leave me a comment or chat with me about it on Twitter.