Libraries and Children’s Literature

Libraries can have a significant impact on early development. Libraries offer creative and innovative approaches to support literacy development and lifelong learning. They represent safe, accessible local spaces in which people can learn, share and discuss, and can be a vital lifeline for people living in disadvantaged circumstances. Libraries offer repeated exposure to positive interactions for the children. Varied storytimes, access to books, activities, role play, book discussions, book reviews, book talks, read-aloud sessions — all of these things foster brain development and early literacy, and other skills.

Libraries provide opportunities outside of the home to experience the positive effects of reading, talking, listening, and playing — activities that help build connections in a child’s brain. According to certain studies, children who are read to regularly exhibit higher activation in areas of the brain that support mental imagery and comprehension of narratives — key skills needed for independent reading comprehension. This exposure to books and storytelling creates love for reading and encourages children to read and engage with books.

Reading can change lives, especially for the first-generation learners, who are not exposed to children’s literature or even a literate environment at home. Children’s literature can be magical, that it connects with a child, brings out their independence, confidence, and happiness while promoting critical thinking. One of the most important experiences that libraries provide is an opportunity to develop a love of books and reading. Reading is a fundamental skill for learning.

Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination. It has the ability to build a greater sense of community, enhance knowledge and memory recall, support early literacy development, and expand creative potential in young children.

Over the past few years, we have realized the importance of libraries and story telling in language and literacy development; and we have also observed how kids can connect over books by having engaging conversations, sharing of opinions and perspectives.  Storytelling sessions helped us connect with the children in a better way-

  • We have used stories to communicate meaning and emotions; Kids or for that matter any person can’t relate much to issues, but they can relate to other people—in other words, to their stories.
  • Stories can be used to get social change – We were able to use books to talk about topics of social stigma in a less intimidating way
  • Storytelling is multidirectional- It gave us an opportunity to discuss a topic, emotion, the situation with the listeners and encourage the kids to share their point of view or experience on the same.
  • These sessions helped us in understanding the thought process or issues faced by kids.
  • The sessions encouraged the kids to share their own stories and in turn, helped us identify the areas that we need to focus on for the betterment of the kid as well as the community.
  • As a wide range of stories is introduced to the kids, all the kids were able to connect to one book or the other.
  • The sessions also encouraged the kids to use their imagination and creativity
  • We have noticed that the act of reading becomes a conversation with the child; the facilitator can be a listener, questioner, and audience for the child. This enabled the facilitators to have a better understanding of the thought process or issues faced by kids by paying attention to the responses from the kids.
  1. Libraries in Schools – Online Capacity Building Workshops for Volunteers

With the guidance of experts in the field, we have learned that

  • One of the roles of a good library is to help children get access to plenty of reading and learning material beyond their school curriculum that will help introduce them to the modern world.
  • Libraries should have an open and vibrant environment that supports reading for pleasure.
  • Children from various backgrounds should be able to enjoy the transformative power of reading.
  • Conduct activities around stories to bring the stories to life so that the kids are better connected to the content.
  • As a facilitator, we need to have knowledge of Children’s literature and the process of book selection for children.

To impart our learnings, we conduct sessions with teachers, volunteers, facilitators, and parents to develop their capacity to engage with children’s literature and create a relationship between books and children. These sessions also help to introduce and deepen the understanding of libraries and the meaningful use of children’s literature in classrooms and homes.

  • The objective of this is to introduce and deepen the understanding of volunteers in the domain of Libraries and children’s literature. Sessions include both theory and practice.
  • Content discussed – concepts, elements, and activities of a library like a vibrant library, the role of libraries and storytelling, Collection, Display, Book Borrowing, Book Caring, Storytelling, read aloud, book talk, choral reading, book discussions, Weekly read aloud challenges, etc., with a special focus on children literature.
  • Engaged participants with warm-up games, Practicing reading aloud, book talks, book discussions, Quizzes, group discussions on related articles, including art and craft in the library activities.
  • In the second phase, this space has become a community learning forum, where all the previous participants are taking the lead and revising the concepts. Haritha, Sreenivas are acting as mentors. Volunteers’ understanding has been deepened and they started practicing reading aloud, storytelling. book talks with other volunteers and with nearby children. This is one of the major activities of ASWA in this pandemic period.
  • On average, about 10 participants from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gurgaon, London, and Kuwait are participating in the session online every Sunday from 2 to 3.30 pm.
  • Participants are able to introduce books to their children and other children.
  • Till now we have conducted 45 such sessions since April 2020.

II. Children Story Time – Online Storytelling

  • To encourage children to read storybooks, express their thoughts and idea, develop critical thinking, expression, and narration, visualization, reading, questioning, and improve communication skills.
  • We could engage them with various methods like aloud the storybooks, asking questions about the pictures and words, and games.
  • Emphasis was to encourage children to read storybooks, express their thoughts and ideas, think critically, narrate, visualize, read, question.
  • 7 to 9 children from 4 to 15 years are participating, every Sunday from 1 pm to 2 pm.
  • Since June 2020 we have conducted 35 sessions.

III. Special Talks under Children- Books-Libraries Series

  • Special talks aim to create awareness and deepen the understanding of storytelling, storybooks, Libraries, How Children Learn, How to bring and work with children, and related topics.
  • Each Session (two hours long) consists of one hour lecture & Q & A. Using Google meet we organized. Experienced educationalists CA Prasad Garu (Nai Talim South Zone coordinator), Bhagya Lakshmi Garu & Suresh Kosaraju Garu (Manchipustakam Publishers) shared their experiences.
  • Conducted three online sessions 2020-21, attended by 315 members (Parents, Teachers, and Other NGOs).