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May 22, 2015

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Virtual Preschool? Believe It or not, It’s a Thing

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A curriculum from Vinci, available to parents by subscription, promises to “inspire the genius” in young children. Public libraries have actually been offering remote services to families for a while now, maintains Lisa Kropp, who further considers the notion of virtual preschool.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

PNC Bank’s $350 Million Early Learning Push | First Steps

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Banks aren’t traditionally known for innovating with early childhood education programs, but Pittsburgh’s PNC Bank is a happy exception. Its bilingual Grow Up Great initiative builds strong partnerships with libraries and other cultural institutions around early learning.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Teaching STEAM with Lois Ehlert: Preschool isn’t too early to introduce STEM + art

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The books of Lois Ehlert, with their vivid-hued collages, are a staple of the storytime shelf—and a great start for teaching STEAM concepts to toddlers and preschoolers. Which of your favorite titles would fit into a preschool science program? Share them here.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

A National Effort to Read to Kids 15 Minutes a Day Needs Our Support | First Steps

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Read Aloud 15 Minutes is a nonprofit organization that’s working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes “the new standard in child care.” First Steps columnist Lisa Kropp urges libraries to sign on as partners in the effort.

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Chaos in Your Children’s Section? Embrace It. | First Steps

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Mayhem, schmayhem. If your library’s children’s room is chaotic, it’s proof that the little ones are learning.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Preschool and the Income Gap: Libraries Must Step Up to Serve Children of Color | First Steps

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The effects of the income gap are starkly evident in long-range studies of our youngest learners, making it critical for libraries to provide early learning services to those who need it the most: poor children.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Bedtime Math Battles Summer Slide in Both Math and Reading | First Steps

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Research shows math skills at kindergarten entry are a better predictor of school success than reading or attention span. With that in mind, Bedtime Math has partnered with libraries to battle summer slide.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Goal: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten | First Steps

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Children need to enter school ready to learn to read, which means they must be introduced early to a host of varied vocabulary. Sharing 1,000 books with them before kindergarten—via programs for parents and caregivers that model best reading practices—is the ideal way to do this.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Chew That Book: Why Babies Belong in Libraries | First Steps

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Essential is what our early literacy programs need to be—especially if we want children’s librarian jobs to be considered necessary community services. Make it your mission this year to increase early literacy services at your site by offering at least one nursery-rhyme-based program a month for ages birth to two years old.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

The Pleasure Principle: Children (and grown-ups) tend to do what’s most fun | First Steps

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First Steps began almost nine years ago, in February of 2004. Our first column was about the importance of having fun, because we believed that fun was a key element in any discussion of early literacy. We still do. Learning to read isn’t easy. It’s hard work, and children need to be motivated to put forth the effort. Like adults, they’re inclined to do what’s most enjoyable for them.

As 2013 approaches, Nell is celebrating 40 […]

Why Offer Black Storytime? | First Steps

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Imagine that while interviewing for a library job you’re asked, “What would storytime specifically for African-American families look like to you?” That’s what happened to Kirby McCurtis. “I thought it was an especially interesting and challenging question,” says Kirby, who aced the interview and is now Multnomah County Library’s (MCL) newest African-American librarian. “It stayed with me even after the second interview. Now that I am working here, I have the opportunity to answer it every Saturday. It’s very exciting!”

The Neglected Ones: Children of undocumented immigrants seldom receive the services they need | First Steps

These days the news is full of polarizing stories about undocumented immigrants. Rarely do we hear about the 4.5 million children born each year in the United States to undocumented immigrant parents.

Mind Readers: Thinking Out Loud Can Raise Children’s Comprehension Skills | First Steps

It’s toddler storytime: let the rumpus begin! Toddlers bound quickly into the room. One hurdles mom’s legs while waiting for the opening song. Some hop, others roam, and a few practically climb our unflappable colleague Janie. Even after getting most of their wiggles out, many toddlers continue to float around the room—until Janie begins to read one of her favorite books, Owl Babies (Candlewick, 1996) by Martin Waddell.

Give Them a Big Hand: Puppets are great motivators for children who are learning to read

One of the most surprising early literacy questions we’ve encountered is about puppets. It came from a youth librarian whose director insisted that he couldn’t see how using puppets “has any value whatsoever, as far as early literacy is concerned.” “What can I tell him?” she asked us.

Oh, my. Where to start?

Print motivation, most likely. What motivates children more than having fun? Puppets are nothing if not fun. A puppet sharing a story enchants a preschool […]

A Running Start: We’re excited about the latest programs for very young learners | First Steps

It’s good to begin the New Year with enthusiasm. Here at Multnomah County Library we’re excited about several things. First, and perhaps most importantly, we’re looking forward to being successful at the ballot box in May, when primary voters will be asked to renew the bulk of our funding. Fortunately, the library is well-regarded in the Portland, OR, community, and we’re likely to secure the support we need.

We’re also excited about rolling out the new “Every Child […]

When Trauma Hits Home: Did you know that infants are the largest single group of victims? | First Steps

One of the most startling things we learned this year is that 48.6 percent of trauma victims in our state of Oregon are younger than six years old. And infants make up the largest single group of victims. These children may experience violence at home or within their neighborhoods; they may face separation from a parent or caregiver because of divorce, death, incarceration, or even military deployment.

We were attending a training session […]

Get Ready, Get Set… | First Steps

In a perfect world, every child would enter kindergarten happy, healthy, and eager to learn. They’d run into their classrooms anxious to see friends and already in love with their teachers. But it’s not quite a perfect world here in Portland, OR. A large percentage of our children of color and those from low-income families aren’t ready to learn when they enter the Portland Public Schools (PPS). A recent study found that […]

The Power of Words | First Steps

How librarians can help close the vocabulary gap

We’ve never forgotten a story that Micki Freeny, coordinator of youth services at the District of Columbia Public Library, told us about her daughter. Kyle was four years old when she asked a cashier if the mints on the restaurant counter were “complimentary.” “No dear,” replied the woman, “they’re free.” Kyle is now a Harvard-educated attorney who still enjoys meals out with her mom, and […]

A Happy Ending | First Steps

Outcomes-based evaluations help us define what we’re trying to accomplish

Spring is the time of year when we ask our early childhood community partners to help us measure the effectiveness of our outreach services or—said another way—evaluate the outcomes of our programs. Outcomes are what the participants will know or be able to do after participating in our programs. For example, one parent wrote, “I will be more patient when I read with my daughter. […]

Have You Heard the Word?: National Poetry Month is a great time to share the joy of poetry with children | First Steps

Our evening walks around Portland are even more delightful these days as more and more neighbors have added poetry posts to their yards. Poetry posts, you ask? They are simple wooden poles, kind of like a “For Sale” signpost, but with a see-through, covered box attached. Inside the box is a poem, often in multiple copies so that passersby may help themselves. We don’t know if poetry posts exist outside Portland, […]