MASON — Studies have shown that reading aloud to infants and toddlers helps them have a better vocabulary and higher literacy, as well as pay attention and concentrate better.
The Mason County Library system is doing its part in assisting parents and their young children in this effort, with the establishment of the new “Tot Time” program.
The program, according to Library Director Pam Thompson, is a lap-sit that lasts about a half hour for children from birth to 36 months. It is a time for the babies to interact, and for parents to come together for fellowship.
Thompson said a short book will be read, and leaders will begin to establish basic skills through play and repetition. Tot Time is being funded through a programming grant the library system received from United Way of the River Cities.
The new program has been ongoing throughout the summer at the main library in Point Pleasant. It got underway last week at the branch libraries in New Haven and Mason, according to Thompson.
Parents do not have to sign up for Tot Time. They can simply show up as often as they would like. The program is held in New Haven on Tuesdays at 9 a.m., Point Pleasant on Tuesdays at 10 a.m., and Mason on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.
Betsy Smith of Letart, who works from her home, took her one-year-old son Oliver to the inaugural Tot Time last week in Mason.
“I was excited to see that this was offered at our local library,” Smith said. “I have been wanting Oliver to have interaction with other children his age. This was the perfect opportunity.”
She continued, “It’s great that he has an activity that he can enjoy once a week. He loved listening and watching Pam (Thompson) read stories, sing songs, and tell rhymes. I was amazed how he sat and paid attention. I am hopeful that he learns to socialize with others and gains an interest in books and other learning activities.”
Tot Time is just one of several programs at the libraries aimed at pre-school children. Another is the popular “Story Hour,” geared for children from three to five years.
Story Hour begins Sept. 18 in New Haven, and Sept. 20 in Point Pleasant and Mason. Although the sessions are full at this time, Thompson said a waiting list has been started, and if enough interest is shown, an additional class might be opened.
The library staff is also very vocal in support of Dolly Parton’s “Imagination Library.” This program mails out a free book to children each month from birth to five years, based on the child’s age. Library clerks can provide additional information on how to enroll in the program.
For more information on Tot Time or Story Hour, contact the Point Pleasant library at 304-675-0894, the New Haven library at 304-882-3252, or the Mason library at 304-773-5580.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.