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Kid-friendly atmosphere, programs promote early literacy

The child-sized furniture and large, fluffy pillows in the shape of animals draw young children into the cozy, early-learning area near the picture books section at Wilmington Branch Library. Here, tots and their parents can read, play quietly and learn together.

The family-friendly atmosphere is part of the library’s efforts to get parents involved in early literacy programs since so much learning happens in the first five years of life. Other activities include weekly story times for preschoolers, where parents and toddlers enjoy books, puppets, flannel-board stories and songs, and literacy workshops for parents.

The parent workshops are designed to “encourage parents to read with children and do simple activities involving singing, playing, reading, writing, and talking,” says Children’s Librarian Martha Sherod, noting she puts on about a half dozen workshops a year at the library and at nearby preschools. “It’s a great opportunity to speak to parents about the importance of early reading.”

Last summer, the library, one of 73 libraries under the Los Angeles Public Library, launched a Pre-K reading program as part of its Summer Reading Club. Using a game board, children received credit each time they completed an activity, such as reading and rhyming words, at the library or at home. When children completed a game board, they received a free book.

“The parents really enjoyed the eight-week program; they realized how instrumental they were in helping kids learn to read,” Sherod adds. The program, which included materials in English and Spanish, had about 200 children participating in the activities.

With the area’s sizeable Latino population, Wilmington library has one of the largest selections of Spanish books for children and adults. It is also one of the busier libraries, housing about 52,000 items, of which approximately 14,000 are circulated each month.

Due to budget reductions, the library was closed on Mondays from July 2010 to July 2011, but the passage of Measure L allowed Wilmington and other branches to reopen on Mondays.

Sherod says the community was pleased to see the library open six days a week. “We have a busy branch — most afternoons, our tables are full.”

Check out photos of the Book Fairy’s visit to Wilmington below!

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