Pilot aims to encourage early literacy skills

0 | Early Childhood

— A new pilot program aimed at helping kids develop early literacy skills is set to start in four communities in January, state library officials announced today.

The “Checkup and Check Out” pilot will match four libraries with a pediatric clinic in the same town. Families visiting the clinics during the six-month pilot will be encouraged to visit the library to learn about early literacy skills and receive a free book.

The pilot is funded by the State Library, through the Children’s Initiative Fund as part of Gov. Sam Brownback's Reading Roadmap. The participants and their funding amounts are:

• Chanute Public Library and Ashley Clinic, ($2,100),

• Manhattan Public Library and Pediatric Associates ($8,750),

• Newton Public Library and Cottonwood Pediatrics ($3,500), and

• Smith Center Public Library and Smith County Family Practice ($350).

If the pilot is found to increase library attendance, funding will be sought to expand the program to more Kansas communities, said state library officials.

Jennifer Adams of at the Manhattan Public Library said she believes the program is good way to encourage parents to foster their child's early literacy skills and promote the resources available to do so at the library.

“For some of them, this might be their first visit to their local library where they can discover all the books and other materials they can check out free, plus storytimes and fun programs their kids can attend. This grant will create awareness about the many services local libraries offer," said Adams, the library's Children’s Services Manager.

The pilot supplements an existing program started in 2004 by the Kansas Pediatric Foundation, which gives children an age-appropriate book at each check-up from six months through five years at 58 clinics in 27 counties in the state.

Families in the pilot will also be given a card introducing them to "6 by 6," which was developed at Johnson County Library to teach parents and children the six skills needed by age six to be ready to learn to read. The skills, and what parents should do to teach them, are:

• Print motivation: Have fun with books during playtime.

• Print awareness: Notice and read aloud print all around.

• Vocabulary: Talk to your child constantly, even when they don’t understand what's being said.

• Narrative skills: Tell stories about things in the environment.

• Letter knowledge: Look for letters everywhere and point them out.

• Phonological awareness: Take time to rhyme, sing and play word games.

The Johnson County Library's "6 by 6" program is funded in part through the Johnson County Library Foundation and the Kansas Health Foundation, which is a major funder of the Kansas Health Institute.



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