The Work and Family Taskforce hosted its first "Story Time" for approximately a dozen children, Dec. 1, in the Getchell Library Instruction Room. The University committee launched the monthly reading project to increase the number of family-friendly activities offered on campus.
"The Taskforce is one of the University diversity committees and one of our goals is to encourage parents and children to experience diversity and inclusion through favorite children's books," said Alina Solovyova, Teaching Learning and Technologies instructional designer and WFT co-chair. "We are inviting families onto campus who may have never thought to bring their young kids here."
Guest reader Cindy Wood, library associate for Washoe Country School District, planned an interactive period for the group, which was comprised primarily of pre-school aged children.
Wood read a collection of favorites including "Three Cheers for Tacky," by Helen Lester; "Tops and Bottoms" by Janet Stevens; and "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," by Michael Rosen.
Wood and the children went on a bear hunt that invited sensory engagement with sight, sound, touch and hearing.
Wood is employed in the Nell J. Redfield Learning and Resources Center, a collaboration of the College of Education and the Washoe County School District (WCSD). Wood also reads each week to students from the Early Learning Center at Sierra Vista Elementary in Reno and children who attend the College of Health and Human Sciences' Child and Family Research Center.
Work and Family Taskforce members are recruiting guest readers for future monthly "Story Time" dates. The taskforce hopes that faculty, staff and students will volunteer to participate. Guest readers are requested to commit two hours on a Saturday morning.
"We want to make this program as family-friendly as possible and that means being sensitive to the schedules of people who have kids," Solovyova said. "I have two children so I know that it would be difficult to bring children here after traditional hours. That's when most families are dealing with dinner. A Saturday schedule accommodates both children and their parents or care providers."
The Work and Family Taskforce Assists university faculty, staff, and students encourages the university to develop family-friendly policies and services and is one of six University diversity committees.
Top Tips When Reading To Children
Guest readers don't need to perfect but it helps to have a sense of wonder and fun to draw children into the story. Ellen Fockler, Washoe County School District library coordinator, offers five tips to make a guest reader's "Story Time" successful.
- Introduce yourself when you sit down in a reading circle with children. They like to know who you are and what you do because it personalizes the experience.
- Identify the book title and the author. This is a natural cue that the reading is about to start and encourages children to settle down.
- Hold the book off to the side. Children should see your face. It increases the interactivity of the reading experience when they see the illustrations as they listen to your words.
- Read the book in advance. You don't want to stumble over words when reading to children and you can "edit" (i.e., skim over some parts or slow down) if time becomes an issue.
- Select books with large, simple illustrations. It frustrates young children when they can't see what's happening on the page. Large, brightly-colored illustrations are easy to see and engage children's attention in what they see and hear.