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Baby Club

St. Louis County Library

Innovation Leader: Charles Pace, Director, cpace@slcl.org

Problem Statement

While we have done a terrific job with Summer reading programs for elementary school-age kids and teens, we realized that there was an important group of young people who were being lost—infants and toddlers too young to read on their own, but who should have parents reading to them on a daily basis to help build their literacy skills from the very beginning of their life. Asking ourselves how we could market to parents the simple idea that reading aloud to your child is one of the very best and most important things you can do as a parent, we developed a new Summer Reading program, which unlike the others which are marketed directly to children and teens, was marketed to parents of young children.

Innovation

Baby Club is for newborns through 2 years of age. The idea behind this club is to provide parents with an incentive to read aloud to their children . Parents receive a reading log when they sign up for the program. Parents keep track of how many books they have read to their child and how many story times they have attended at the library. When they have read 10 and then 20 books, or read books and attended storytimes equaling 20, they return to the library to receive age-appropriate prizes. The reading log that the parent receives includes information about the Every Child Ready to Read initiative and the five strategies for creating a reader: Reading, Singing, Playing, Talking and Writing. It also includes songs and finger plays that a parent can use with their young child. We also list resources for Parents including web sites and books that can help them prepare their children to become readers.

Progress

We implemented the Baby Club for the first time in the summer of 2009. In our second year the program grew to the point twe have been able to leverage the success of the program to lure a major sponsor, PNC bank, who have given us a grant that will essentially cover all of the costs of the 2011 Baby Club. Their generous gift will allow us to add a new prize to the mix, a CD of live music from a local family music radio program, “The Musical Merry-Go-Round.” Perhaps the most important outcome of this program is the vehicle that it provides us to disseminate the Every Child Ready to Read information to so many parents who we might otherwise not reach.