One thousand books, immeasurable opportunities

Needham Children’s librarian, Elise, reads to a group of children for ‘The Big Read,’ a nationwide initiative for parents and caregivers to read one book a day to their children. Photos by Laura Drinan

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Many adults remember being read to as a child. As children, no amount of bedtime stories is ever enough, and the best time in elementary school seems to be sitting on a big rug as the teacher reads a story aloud.

To get parents and caretakers involved in kick-starting literacy development, the Needham Free Public Library has decided to take part in “The Big Read,” a nationwide campaign to emphasize the importance of early childhood literacy on October 2. The campaign is a part of “One Thousand Books Foundation,” which challenges families to read one thousand books before kindergarten.

After giving some information about signing up for “The Big Read” and how to log books, Miss Eva reads “Where’s Spot?” to the children and sings “The Wheels on the Bus,” while showing the book’s pictures and doing the coordinating hand movements.

As she reads to a group of children for ‘The Big Read,’ Miss Elise acts out the book.

As she reads to a group of children for ‘The Big Read,’ Miss Elise acts out the book.

Needham Children’s librarian, Elise, shows a young girl ‘Bunny Days’ as a potential book to take home and keep as a reward for being a part of ‘The Big Read.’

Needham Children’s librarian, Elise, shows a young girl ‘Bunny Days’ as a potential book to take home and keep as a reward for being a part of ‘The Big Read.’

Miss Elise reads some longer and more advanced books to the children, called “Wolf” and “Now.” She reads aloud, changing her tone and volume throughout the story to keep the children engaged.

“These books just show how we should read books,” said Elise. “You should read with passion and emotion and expression. You should be silly and you should act out and you should make noises. Children will love it and will love reading.”

After the stories, the children ask if they can dance. After a quick frolic to “Shake Your Sillies Out,” they are welcomed to pick out a book from a cart to take home and cherish forever. There is a whole variety of books available for the children and their full range of interests. One toddler wants a Halloween-themed book, while another looks one about fairies, and another grabs the first book about baby animals she can find.

“Even if it has a lot of words or you think it isn’t quite age-appropriate within reason, it’s important for the children to pick out the book,” says Eva.

The library welcomes children of all ages, even newborns. “Eighty per cent of brain growth happens between zero and three,” says Eva. “So we’re here to do anything we can to help.”

Simply being dedicated and helpful librarians helps ensure the youngest Needham Library visitors a rich and diverse path of childhood literacy development.

Needham Children’s librarian Eva acts out ‘Where’s Spot?’ as she reads to a group of pre-kindergarteners.

Needham Children’s librarian Eva acts out ‘Where’s Spot?’ as she reads to a group of pre-kindergarteners.

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