Grand Ledge library engages young students through books and other activities

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The Grand Ledge Area District Library acts as a learning center for young children by holding different events and activities that promote reading and literacy.

Every week, the Grand Ledge Area District Library has a different event for children, like a preschool storytime, a literacy celebration and an animation station. Each activity promotes reading and enhances literacy.

Jean Fellows, the program coordinator at the library, said she created these different events for children in the Grand Ledge area through bringing and sharing different ideas in conferences and among the other library staff and volunteers.

The children’s section of the Grand Ledge Area District Library.

“When our new director arrived, she really wanted us to look for underserved populations,” she said. “It seemed like a natural idea to try and find when were times that other people might be able to come and participate.”

Fellows came up with the preschool storytime events in order to encourage reading across the community’s younger crowd. The storytime events allow kids to be engaged with books that are read to them, and there are also additional activities, such as movement exercises, a snack time and a stuffed animal sleepover.

“We exist to serve our community and the needs of the community are always evolving,” she said. “Because we like to encourage reading, we like to find other ways to make sure that reading message, that reading opportunity gets to our community.”

Fellows said that events that the library puts on, like the storytimes, are important because they help promote literacy and activities that don’t involve technology.

“Any opportunity to put kids in front of something other than a screen is, I think, a huge, huge thing to do,” she said.

Jean Fellows, program coordinator, reads to the children at the preschool storytime event on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

Fellows said that whether it’s coming to a library and actually seeing somebody read a story, or whether it’s going outside, learning beyond the screen of a tablet and interacting with a story is extremely important.

“All of those other opportunities to interact with the world, as opposed to just completely a screen,” she said. “It’s easy to be at a screen and kids, of course, respond very well to that, and we have some of those opportunities available, too.”

Fellows and Lise Mitchell, the library director, said that the library is continuing to expand their outreach efforts and to come up with new ideas to engage with kids in the community.

“We’re always seeking new ideas, and we’re always seeking new ways to make the library accessible and relevant, and that’s an ongoing process,” Fellows said. “So, we welcome a lot of input.”

Fellows said that one of the library’s newer events is the “How to Adult” event, where teens and young adults can learn practical life skills, like how to balance a checkbook and how to change oil in a car.

Kelsey Mead reads to children at the preschool storytime event on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

Shannon Bauer, a Delta Township resident and parent, said that she often brings her kids to the storytime events and that she has noticed that her son has become more comfortable and independent through bringing him to the library.

“I’ve seen the biggest difference with him. When we were first coming to any of these, he was clinging, he was always crying,” she said. “This is the first time he has sat in that chair by himself the whole time.”

Bauer said that giving him an outlet to reading has been helping him learn, and that both of her kids enjoy the interactive storybook characters who sometimes make an appearance at the library.

“They love the character visits,” she said. “We made an effort to come to those; that’s always exciting to them.”

Kelsey Mead, a volunteer at the library and a literacy tutor with AmeriCorps, said that she has had the opportunity to be at several of the events, including the preschool storytimes and a Michigan in the Civil War event.

Kelsey Mead reads to children at the preschool storytime event on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018.

She said that events like these in the community are fulfilling to witness.

“It’s just really neat to see them, like, have their own area and, you know, all the parents are here obviously, but to see them interact with the stories,” she said. “It’s not just a read aloud, we do a finger play and some sort of movement is involved in that, too.”

Fellows said that the next big event at the library will be Lego-a-Palooza on Wednesday, Mar. 14 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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