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Make Your Baby Brilliant

Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County
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Innovation Leader: Josephine Nolfi, Manager Children's Services, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, jnolfi@libraryvisit.org

Problem Statement

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County searched for a way to educate all who provide early childcare about advances in brain development research that confirms the importance making early literacy a priority in a young child’s day, and for ways to help all adults working with young children identify and share developmentally appropriate books, materials, and activities with children from birth to age five for optimum developmental benefit.

Innovation

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County took the following steps to achieve our goals:

  1. The Library provided training for staff and all interested adults. Programs and workshops included research in baby brain development, presenting Every Child Ready to Read modules, and developing and presenting library programs that incorporate communication with parents about how materials used in the program help develop preliteracy skills.
  2. The Library appointed a Baby Brilliant Project manager to reach out to users who might not be regular library users.
  3. The Library partnered with Child Care Connection, our local childcare resource and referral center, so that we could reach all early childhood providers, including those in home daycare settings, and offer continuing education credits.
  4. Librarians developed more than 300 “Baby Brilliant” kits that help caregivers reinforce the development of the preliteracy skills at home or school. Kits include books, music, toys, and an educational booklet. Every booklet includes a listing that identifies all titles in the kit and the preliteracy skills that can be reinforced by sharing each book. Also included are a sheet that helps childcare providers learn the types of books that showcase each skill, as well book sharing ideas for each. An activities sheet, which links to the kit topic, includes songs, rhymes, and an early literacy activity tip.

Progress

The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County trained more than 450 early childcare providers and continues to coach all adults who attend library preschool programs by incorporating educational components and activities into traditional library programs. To date, more than 15,000 children and parents have benefitted from in-house programs. More than 330 Baby Brilliant kits have been created. Since they began circulating on December 1, 2006, approximately 1,000 kits have circulated each year. They have become one of our most popular collections and are regularly requested by parents and teachers.