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THE LIBRARY LOOKOUT COLUMN: A new look at literacy

As a children and youth services librarian, early literacy and instilling a love for literature to children at a young age has always been an important aspect of my job.

Sara Hahn

One of my favorite programs that I have the privilege of offering our community is our Bouncing Babies Story Time each Thursday at 11 a.m. for children ages birth through 2 years old. We’ve gone virtual with our programming for the past year, so instead of families coming into our story time space and spreading out on the rug to join me in songs and book sharing, parents and caregivers have become more responsible for making sure their child is involved. This requires putting life on hold and logging on to tune in each week online for our literacy programming.

If you’re a monthly reader of this column, thank you, and also, you noticed that Library Director Melanie Holles was a guest author for the past several months while I was out on maternity leave.

My husband and I are thrilled to have welcomed a precious daughter, Vera Elizabeth, in February of this year, and suddenly, early literacy is real to me in a way that it has never been before. Suddenly I realize that board books aren’t just something fun to look at and read once a week to a group of babbling babes on the storytime rug, but are the actual building blocks that we are using to teach a child to learn.

I am now using these board books to teach my daughter how to grasp pages, how to look at colors and, eventually, how to learn numbers, and how to sound out words which will help her communicate and become a lifelong learner.

Suddenly, it’s a lot more important to me that I’m creating programming for the children in our community that is building on literacy skills and teaching concepts instead of just being fun and colorful.

Suddenly, I’m not a librarian, I’m a mommy. Bubble machines are great and are such a fun part of storytime, but we have to be sure that before the bubbles steal the show, our children have learned to use their hands and eyes and ears to develop their senses and learn and grow.

Suddenly, the weekly Baby Sign Language word that I’m teaching to my group isn’t some random word that I thought would be fun for us to learn or goes along with the changing seasons, it’s a word that I realize I need my daughter to learn so that she can communicate earlier to help me know what she needs.

As honored as I am to be able to have the title of “librarian” on my business card and email signature, I’ve never been more honored by any title than my newest of “mom.” I hope that by growing in my title of the latter, it will continue to develop my ability to become an even better version of the former.

This weekend, my very first Mother’s Day, I’m going to enjoy the new balance of being both a librarian and a mommy. I’m going to snuggle on the couch with my new favorite reader, a cup of coffee and our library bag full of borrowed books, and I invite you to do the same.

Currently Reading: “The Wrong Family” By Tarryn Fisher

Picture Book Highlight: “Michael Recycle” by Ellie Bethel

Sara Hahn is the Children and Youth Services Librarian of the Stanly County Public Library in Albemarle. You can reach her at shahn@stanlycountylibrary.org or the Albemarle Library at 704-986-3758.