By Jennifer Shelby
The first book children receive from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could. With my first child, I thought, “I think I can, I think I can. That’s a classic.” With my second child, I realized this book was for the parents just as much as the children. Early literacy isn’t easy.
I don’t like those books. Reading them is torturous. They make me feel like the Rusty Old Engine from The Little Engine That Could: I doubt myself. I know early language skills are important. I know that it lays the foundation for learning every other subject. I know. But … my sanity is important too, isn’t it?
Don’t worry, parents and caregivers, we’re not alone. Albert County isn’t just rugged coastline and rambling forests, Albert County contains a team of people ready to help us teach our kids. Beyond Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library there’s also Literacy Express, the Parent-Child Mother Goose Program, and various events at the Hillsborough Library. There are no fees for any of these programs, and until March 31st, Tele-Drive will drive us and our kids to the library and any early literacy events for free! After April 1st, you can still use Tele-Drive to get to these programs but at a low cost. (www.connectingalbertcounty.org/wellness/tele-drive-offers-more-than-just-a-drive-to-town )
Curious, but not sure? Here’s a breakdown:
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will send our children a free book every month from birth until five years of age. They begin with board books (so fun for babies to look at and chew on!) and move onto paper books as your child grows. They are stories, not lists of colours and shapes, and each book contains a page of suggestions to parents on how to get the most learning possible out of each book, usually by questions and things to watch for. I love watching my kids’ excitement over a package arriving in the mail addressed to them, ripping it open, and guessing at the pictures while they wait for me to snuggle up and read it to them. More info at www.connectingalbertcounty.org/wellness/the-imagination-library-bringing-books-to-rural-albert-county
Literacy Express is an hour-long drop-off program for children aged 3 and 4 on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, 10am until 11am, from September to May following the school schedule. Located at Hillsborough’s Train Museum, children pass a fun hour with their peers singing songs and doing crafts to match the theme of that week’s book. Parents are encouraged to roam the village, visit the Hillsborough Library, and otherwise enjoy their brief hour “off”. Visit here for more information www.connectingalbertcounty.org/wellness/the-literacy-express-and-the-little-library-that-can
The Parent-Child Mother Goose Program for caregivers and children from birth to 5-years-old is newly offered through Talk-With-Me Anglophone East at Forestdale Home in Riverside-Albert. Starting January 29th and running until March 19th, the program will be taking place Mondays from 10-11am. Rather than books, this program focuses on oral storytelling and engaging children with gestures, finger plays, songs, and rhymes to explore their developing language skills. Registration is required. Find more information at www.connectingalbertcounty.org/wellness/mother-goose-in-riverside-albert or call 856-3617 to register.
Babies in the Library is a half-hour program at the Hillsborough Library for babies 0-18 months and their caregiver. Stories, songs, rhymes, tickles, and giggles are all up for grabs on Wednesdays at 10:30am from January 17th to February 7th. Parents are encouraged to call the library at 734-3722 to register.
On Thursdays, the Hillsborough Library also offers Storytime for children from birth to 4-years-old (with caregiver), 2 PM until 2:30. This program will be running from January 11th into the spring.
For Family Literacy Week, the Hillsborough Library is holding a special event (in conjunction with Talk With Me) on Friday, January 26th at 2pm where children will listen to stories and find book treasure. Registration is required to ensure take-home supplies last (734-3722).
While you’re at the library, why not browse the books and get your kids their own library card. See what kind of children’s books you like. Reading books to our kids that make us want to pull our hair out isn’t going to make them love reading. They pick up on those cues. So don’t read those books. Find books that are fun for you too and read them those. If it’s fun for us, it’s naturally going to be more fun for our kids. Finding my favourite children’s author (William Joyce!) has been a game changer for me.
Snuggle in. Giggle. Get lost in a good story. This way, when we’re forced to read that Fancy Nancy book for the millionth time, or read our older child a bedtime chapter from their 937th Rainbow Fairies book, we’ve already found our groove, and so have they.
The Little Blue Engine knew what she was talking about. We can do this.
Tele-Drive Albert County, the Imagination Library and Literacy Express are all supported by the Bennett & Albert County Health Care (BACH) Foundation. To contribute to the foundation, see www.bachfoundation.com or call (506) 882-3100.
When she’s not writing articles for Connecting Albert County, Jennifer Shelby can be found writing fantasy stories for children of all ages and helping her kids with chores on their imaginary dragon farm. You can learn more about her at jennifershelby.ca and read her (mostly) fiction blog at jennifershelby.blog