PRIME TIME Family Reading Time
Bernardo's favorite story is Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Morrow. He read this book with his mother at the Chamblee Library's PRIME TIME Family Reading Time which occurred for six weeks this fall. His mother, Nancy, loves the program. "I wanted to come last year because I love books and learning, but Bernardo was not old enough." PRIME TIME serves families with children aged six to ten. The Chamblee Library manager works with local schools to identify students and their families who might benefit from the program. Participants come each Monday evening for six weeks and check out two titles a week, in English and in Spanish. Professional storytellers model reading and discussion questions at each session. "At school, Bernardo's teacher noticed his reading level improved. He is able to recognize many more words now because we are reading so much," Nancy adds proudly.
PRIME TIME receives support from the Georgia Public Library Service, and funds from the DeKalb Library Foundation provide books for the families to keep after the program has concluded. "I am so glad Bernardo can participate in this program. It is helping him develop his vocabulary and providing an opportunity for him to think more deeply about books."
Mommy and Me
The Refugee Family Literacy Program focuses on teaching English to immigrant mothers and providing their children with a safe and nurturing place at the same time. Program Director Jennifer Green describes their work, “The moms and the children are learning and developing together. The children are preparing to enter school, and the moms are learning skills to help them move into the work force.”
DCPL supports the program by sending a literacy coach two days a week, and the participants regularly make visits to the Clarkston library branch. The children and the mothers learn how to use a library and get library cards.
This family literacy program was the perfect place for the DCPL volunteer project. WAG organized library staff to volunteer and donate money and supplies for the project. The DeKalb Library Foundation matched employee funds. This allowed WAG to purchase books for the library to encourage family reading time at home.
As many as 100 Library employees volunteered time and/or resources, from donating money, to building bookshelves, to installing a white board and painting. Over the course of two days, staff from throughout the library system volunteered their time to transform a plain room into a library! The library is bright and cheerful with newly-painted walls, bright white bookshelves filled with new books, and a cozy chair for reading.
Now, at the end of the morning classroom sessions, the moms and the children gather in this new library. They sing songs, enjoy activities and share storytime together. They are developing emergent literacy skills through language-based play. And they can now check books out to take home!
When the DeKalb Library Foundation provided mini-grants to DeKalb library branches for programing, she knew she wanted to use the funds to invite the Atlanta Chinese Dance Company to the Redan-Trotti Library. The Atlanta Chinese Dance Company’s lecture and demonstration format combines traditional Chinese dance performances with detailed live narration and audience participation.
The dancers taught the participants the history and symbolism of the different elements of Chinese dance, using parasols, fans and ribbons. “I was so impressed how this company created a very interactive, educational program while entertaining the audience with the beautiful dances,” said Maveita.
More than 50 adults and children turned out on a rainy night to enjoy this performance. Attendees were invited to participate in the dances as well as ask questions. It was an opportunity to enjoy a cultural, educational program for free.
“Our library patrons seek out and appreciate cultural opportunities such as this,” Maveita notes. “The grant from the DeKalb Library Foundation allowed me to introduce an informative and interactive experience to the patrons of the Redan-Trotti Library.”
Embrace Our World Program at Decatur Library
In response to requests by patrons to provide culturally diverse programming, Mia M. at the Decatur Library created the Embrace Your World program series. Funded by a grant from the Decatur Craft Beer Festival, this series features programs about Indian culture.
Mia collaborated with patron Gauri M. to highlight various aspects of Indian culture. The series began with several free yoga classes. On March 18, patrons learned about and celebrated the Spring Festival of HOLI which marks the end of winter. An exciting part of this celebration involved a "color battle" in which vibrant colored powder was thrown by participants.
Upcoming programs include "Let's Dress Up!" on April 22 which will teach participants how to wear a sari and provide history about the fabric. This program will also feature the art of Mehendi, or henna painting. Also on April 22, local author, Surishtha Sehgal will read from her book, The Wheels of the Tuk Tuk, which is a 2016 Books All Young Georgians Should Read title. The grant funding will allow the first 25 children in attendance to go home with a copy of the book. On May 3, a program called "Blockprinting: Storytime with Textiles" will teach participants the art of block printing on a canvas bag they will decorate.
These culturally rich programs would not be possible without the support of the DeKalb Library Foundation. To learn more about these programs and others like them visit DCPL's website: dekalblibrary.org/events