“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
I’ve been called by many names over the years, some of them more pleasant than others, but I think the one I cherish the most is Auntie Book. When my family and friends started having children, I showed up at every baby shower with a gift of a hand-knit blanket wrapped around a bundle of books. As time went on, I continued to give books as gifts on every possible occasion. I also kept a stash of reading materials in a huge tote bag, which I brought out whenever I had the chance to look after my nieces and nephews. Time has marched on at a rapid pace, and those little ones have now grown up and in some cases have little ones of their own. I stopped being Auntie Book to those kids some years ago, but I still believe that the best gift you can give a child of any age is a book – and your time.
It’s never too soon to start sharing the joy of books with a child, and the Winnipeg Public Library has a plethora of programs to suit any preschooler in your life. For those who are quite literally new to the world, and thus to reading in general, we have the Baby Rhyme Time program, which is aimed at infants aged 0 – 24 months and their caregivers. This program offers songs, rhymes, and stories that will get the little ones in your life off to a great start.
For this age group, one of my go-to book recommendations is Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid. The words celebrate the many ways you can read with a child, and the illustrations of familiar locations are great for a developing mind.
Once a child has reached the age of 2, we have another program that suits the needs of busy, inquisitive minds and bodies. Time for Twos is designed with the toddler in mind, with loads of interactive activities and age-appropriate stories.
For this stage in life, my book gift list would invariably include a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It’s a perfect choice to catch a child’s interest, with loads of fun pictures and a highly satisfying ending.
Pre-School Story Time is the next step in enhancing a child’s love of literacy. This program is for children aged 3 – 5 who are ready to be part of a group without their caregivers in the same room. Longer stories and more fun songs and stretches ensure that everyone has a good time.
The first time I read Bark, George by Jules Feiffer I knew that I had found a true gem. Between the ridiculous story and riotous illustrations, I defy anyone to read this and not end up with a roaring case of the giggles.
If everyone in the family is into books, why not check out a Family Story Time? The content is aimed primarily at children aged 3 – 5, but everyone is welcome to join in the fun.
And, on Monday evenings, the St. James Library is offering a Sensory Story Time. Featuring books, stretches, and movement activities in an input-sensitive environment. Sensory Story Time is an interactive program geared toward children ages 3-5, including children on the Autism spectrum, and their parents/caregivers and siblings.
One of our favorite books to read at Sensory Story Time is The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. Everyone has fun trying to spot that big hungry bear before he gets to that red ripe strawberry.
I still treasure the memories of the kids I read with back in the day, and fortunately for me so do they. I’m almost finished knitting the blanket for the latest little one to become part of my life, and, of course, I’ve already picked up the rest of the present. Long live Auntie Book!