Big Lake and 150 Mile elementary schools are two in School District 27 that have created a library for children and parents who attend their StrongStart programs.
This is the first time it’s been done, and for that reason, the schools are unique in the district.
Maria Lepetich is the teacher/librarian and reading recovery teacher at 150 Mile elementary. With the help of the school’s Parent Advisory Council and funds from the district, Lepetich created a special library for children aged zero to five years.
“The books are in tubs,” Lepetich says. “They are all colour coded and labelled. There are nursery rhyme books and alphabet books.”
Most of the books are specifically not made of traditional materials and that allows them to be more durable and therefore withstand heavier use.
The impetus behind the program is to get kids and parents thinking about literacy early.
“A lot of people don’t know that the earlier you start reading to your children the better it is for their literacy development so that was the whole idea of getting books in the hands of the parents and the kids,” Lepetich says.
StrongStart parents and children have access to the books during StrongStart programming and during regular school hours if they wish. They are encouraged to take the books out from the library.
Joan Lozier, early years co-ordinator at the school district, is pleased that given the opportunity some schools have taken up the program.
She says it’s up to the teacher/librarian at each of the district’s seven StrongStart schools to make the decision whether to get involved and agrees that early lessons in literacy can set children up for later success.
“Anytime we can involve the family in literacy and the earlier we can get started the better. It’s just nice and easy for parents,” she says.
Lepetich has seen the benefits of providing books early first hand.
“It’s wonderful… . These tiny, little children have books in their hands and there is all these early skills like holding the book the right way, turning the pages, looking and examining the pictures so they’re getting all those early literacy skills, which are really important.”