By Nancy Huth
What’s your favorite book? If you asked 4-year-old Sebastian, his answer would be “One Red Rooster” by Kathleen Sullivan Carroll. Sebastian has attended weekly story hour at the Middlefield Library since he was 3, first going to Toddler’s Group (18 months to 3 years) and then to Preschool (ages 3-5).
Middlefield Library has a fantastic Children’s Department and three dedicated librarians (Kara Walker, Heather Passow, and Rachael Barzikowski) who specialize in helping hildren learn to love books. Sebastian is lucky because his mom is an elementary school teacher who started him on books as a baby. Besides reading to him, she bought him toys like puzzles, alphabet letters, word games, refrigerator phonics. “Many stories for children,” she said,” have good morals, such as the Mo Willems series “Pigeon or Piggie” and “Gerald” books, “Little Critter” books, and Eric Litwin and James Dean’s “Pete the Cat” series. Sebastian’s speech is remarkably clear as he sounds out the words.
Sebastian’s grandmother watches him several days a week and takes him to the library for story hour. She keeps a supply of books for him at her house and in her car. There are CDs with accompanying books on loan at the library that are ideal to use for children in the car. Sebastian knows not only the titles of books, but the authors’ and illustrators’ names. He loves being able to order a book and go to the library to pick it up. He doesn’t stare at a computer screen or an iPhone, he stares at books.
Public TV (PBS) now has a program running called “The Great American Read.” You can go to pbs.org and vote for your favorite book while viewing their list of 100 most popular reads. As adults we know the importance of education, especially for young people in an age of artificial intelligence and technology. Jobs are less abundant today, so starting little ones off with a love of reading before they start school goes a long way. Children who are read to have bigger vocabularies when they enter school.
There is an abundance of free material in the Middlefield Library Children’s section. They have brochures and fliers such as: “Tips for Reading to Young Children,” “Simple Activities to Help your Child through Talking, Singing,” “Reading, Writing, Playing; Parental Guides to Early Literacy for ages birth to 5 years”. You can also stop by to pick up their “Summer Storytimes 2018.” The librarians will travel to Amish schools or have the schools come to the library.
Sebastian has a book he always takes to bed with him called “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”and last Halloween he dressed up as The Cat in the Hat. When asked to recommend a book, he chose Eric Carle’s “The Grouchy Ladybug”. The library offers free books, games and activities for children, so don’t miss taking your little ones to this land of adventure and fantasy – our own local library.
Nancy Huth grew up in Cleveland and graduated from Notre Dame College and Cleveland State University. After teaching English for a few years, she married and moved to Germany for 30 years, where she taught English as a second language. In 2005, she and her German husband Dieter moved to Middlefield. Nancy has written for the Middlefield Post since 2007.