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- Read-To-Me -

LO Library's new club aims at youngest children

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A Lake Oswego mom reads to her daughter at the Lake Oswego Public Library.The Lake Oswego Public Library is launching a reading program for its very youngest patrons.

The library is offering a new summer reading club called Read-To-Me, during which parents and guardians can crack open a book for little ones, and win prizes. The club encourages adults to read to any pre-reader, even infants, as “it’s never too early,” says Judy Dunlap, youth services librarian.

“There are prizes at the end, and they are very, very wonderful,” Dunlap says. “The Friends of the Library have given us a very generous grant.”

After signing up, participants plunk down with a book and a pre-reader, wherever they like. Participants who read for 10 minutes on any 25 days during the summer, and turn in their reading logs, will receive rewards. Prizes include new books; tickets for the Portland Trail Blazers, Portland Thorns, Oregon State Fair in Salem and Wilsonville’s Family Fun Center; and coupons from Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Beaverton’s Benihana Restaurant, LO’s Booktique and Lakeshore Learning in Lake Oswego. The grand prize is a bicycle accessory package from the local Bike Gallery.

While some kids may be keeping their eyes on the prizes, they also will be afforded the opportunity to develop reading skills through one of many library offerings. With Read-To-Me, the library is expanding its already impressive early literacy program to include even more children.

“We wanted to create a separate program for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers,” Dunlap says. “Research shows the sooner a child starts looking at books" the more prepared a child will be when he or she starts to read.

“Even babies from the very earliest moments can experience the joy of reading," she said. "You can hold a baby in your lap, cuddle them and point to one word in a picture book and expand on it. Like ‘panda bear.’ It’s important for our youngest citizens to see how books work.”

The youth services staff is not just being conscientious and alert to the possibilities of reading. It is responding to statistics that indicate you should put a book in a baby’s hands as soon as possible, she says. Such as the 30-million word gap.

“Research has shown that a rich and varied vocabulary in the first three years of life sets the foundation for success in learning to read when the time comes,” says Andrea Milano, youth services director. “There is an astounding 30-million word gap in the United States between those children exposed to the fewest words and those who hear the most.”

Reading to kids also teaches them story structure; what sounds letters make; and the very basic concept that words represent objects and ideas.

There may not be a better way to learn to love books than being cuddled at the same time. Or is there? Other fun activities at the library for early readers include, Just For Toddlers: Sing, Move, Dance and Play, which is held every fourth Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The next one is July 23.

And, there are five weekly storytimes divided by age group: Baby Storytime, birth-12 months (10:30 a.m. Fridays); Chirp Musical Laptime for Baby, birth-18 months (3 p.m. Mondays); Fun for Ones, 12-24 months (10:30 a.m. Thursdays); Toddler Storytime, 2-3 years (10:30 a.m. Wednesdays); and Preschool Storytime/Own That Word, 3-5 years (10:30 a.m. Tuesdays). The schedule goes through Aug. 19.

Dunlap says having multiple programs is a good thing.

“It gets the word out a lot more effectively than just having one program,” she says.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to come by the library as soon as possible to sign up for Read-To-Me. The program will run until Aug. 31 at Lake Oswego Public Library on 706 Fourth St. Learn more at www.lopl.org.

The library also offers the Lake Oswego Early Literacy blog, which gives tips on how to enhance the reading experience and to promote early literacy skills: www.ci.oswego.or.us/eln.

Contact Cliff Newell at 503-636-1281 ext. 105 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..