The creative folks at the Ottawa Public Library are reaching their community through engaging early childhood literacy programs both online and directly into homes during the pandemic even though we can only visit the library to pick up or drop off books.
On Thursday afternoons from mid-January until mid-March there is the drop-in Zoom Parent-Baby Connections program for young children, aged 0 to 18 months. Librarians explore memorable songs, rhymes and resources to help you to bond with your baby. Parents are welcome to share experiences with other parents and caregivers at the end of the program. Facilitators discuss topics such as sleep, nutrition, playtime, communication, milestones, and more. Find out more by visiting the Ottawa Public Library website, https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/event/parent-baby-connections-winter-2021.
“Early literacy is building in babies and toddlers,” said Rebekah McCallum, Acting Coordinator of Program Development at the Ottawa Public Library. “Parents can foster early literacy by playing with the sounds of words, singing, reading and discussing picture books together, and learning rhymes with finger movements, for example.”
Robin, one of the children’s librarians at Sunnyside, offers these tips on her blog post: “You can start integrating these five types of interaction with your child from the instant they are born, but it doesn't matter what age you start at or what language you speak or read as long as you: TALK, SING, READ, WRITE, and PLAY. Robin offers more details on Early Literacy here https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/blogs/preparing-your-child-read.
If you’re not into more screen time, the library also offers Take Home Storytime. Next time you’re at Sunnyside, keep your eyes peeled for five children’s books bundled in string ready to go home. Librarians have chosen books to recreate Storytime sessions in your own living room to empower families to read, sing, play, talk and write together without waiting for the next video or Zoom session. Included in the bundle is a double-sided sheet promoting two bilingual activities to improve early literacy and/or numeracy skills (such as linking a letter to an image, finding and linking words that rhyme, counting an element in an image, etc.). These activity sheets are yours to keep.
OPL Online for Kids also has English, French & bilingual Family Storytimes available via Zoom.
The English Storytime for preschool and toddler children and caregivers runs on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. on Zoom. Librarians read stories, sing songs, and recite rhymes, for children ages 6 and under. https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/event/online-storytime-0
For children a little older and who may be starting kindergarten in the fall in French, Robin offers French language learning tips on another blog post on the library’s website, https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/blogs/fle-school-aged-children.
The online children’s programing is popular for Ottawa parents. Rebekah McCallum said that most of the YouTube videos of librarians who participated in the Winter Words at Play series of songs and activities are approaching 200 hits or more.
Stay tuned for March Break programing at the library. This year’s theme is Imagine! Ottawa Public Library’s children’s programming staff and guest presenters will be offering a variety of virtual programs where children will be able to socialize, play, create, and learn new skills in a fun and safe space. Watch for more details at OPL online https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/program.
Originally featured in the February 2021 OSCAR.
Old Ottawa South resident Paige Raymond Kovach remembers learning new songs and hearing great stories with her babies from Jennifer at the Rosemount Branch, and from Susan wearing her magic apron at the Sunnyside Branch.