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Rhyme Time

Calgary Public Library

Problem Statement

Staff were delivering single Every Child Ready to Read programs to Best Beginnings groups. Best Beginnings is an Alberta Health Services program that provides perinatal care to at risk expectant and new mothers. Risk factors for these parents included low income, low literacy and English as a Second Language. As part of the Every Child program, staff emphasized the importance of early exposure to rich oral language through the regular use of rhymes and songs. During the program, staff taught a few rhymes and songs, however we received feedback that the mothers were interested in learning and practicing more so that they could incorporate these early literacy strategies into their regular routines.


Staff developed Rhyme Time, a one hour program designed to teach rhymes and songs to expectant and new moms attending Best Beginnings programs. They made arrangements with Alberta Health Services to follow an Every Child Program with Rhyme Time. Drawing on our experience delivering Parent Child Mother Goose a trademarked oral tradition program, the teaching is delivered orally in an interactive circle with ample opportunity to practice each rhyme and song. Songs that can be sung in any language are used, with participants teaching each other the song in their mother tongue. Rhymes from many ethnic traditions are included, reflecting the diversity of the parents attending the program. Each song or rhyme is repeated several times to be sure that each participant knows it. Each program includes a snack and some social time for the program leaders and participants to chat with each other.

Staff take a range of library resources for participants to borrow at the end of the program. Free library cards are given to participants to encourage them to use the library after the program. Staff also use the opportunity to promote library programs for young children and their parents.

At the end of the program, handouts with the words to the rhymes and songs are distributed.


Since August 2009, the Library has delivered 10 presentations to 187 participants. Response from participants indicate that they feel more confident using the rhymes and are using them more regularly with their children.