Libraries launch Read-Aloud project starting March 2

Pack up a sack of books and head to the kitchen, the living room, laundry room — even the bathroom or garage — and read some of your favorite stories aloud as a family. It’s time for the annual Timberland Regional Library Family Read-Aloud, running from Saturday, March 2 (Dr. Seuss’s birthday) through Friday, April 12 (Beverly Cleary’s birthday).

The program, now in its 12th year, centers on the activity of families reading aloud together in different areas of their homes. As an early learning program, the Read-Aloud focuses on children from infancy to grade 3, though all of a family’s children are encouraged to join in the fun.

“It’s no coincidence that we begin our read-aloud with the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Seuss and close with the celebration of the birthday of Beverly Cleary. Characters from books written by these beloved authors have become part of cherished childhood memories for many generations!” said Ellen Duffy, TRL’s youth services coordinator.

Families, as well as classrooms and child care providers, may pick up a Read-Aloud Castle Start-up Kit at any Timberland library beginning on March 2, enter for chances to win prizes and proceed to read in rooms all around their homes. The more rooms and spaces, the merrier. The kit includes a Read-Aloud Castle on cardstock to color, a set of stickers, a Dr. Seuss bookmark, a door hanger and a prize drawing entry form. Book lists in the kits, all developed by TRL Youth Services staff include “100 toddler favorites,” which include books and music, and “books to read aloud,” the revised edition, featuring high-appeal read-alouds for ages 3 to 12.

“Research (and common sense) tells us that parents are the first and most important teachers of their children,” Duffy explained. What happens between parent and child is the best predictor of future success in school, she added. Children who are read to from an early age develop better language skills, enhanced listening skills, larger vocabularies and are more ready to read when they begin school.

There is a tremendous body of research showing that a child’s emotional and social readiness is a strong predictor of school success. “Sitting comfortably together to share a story helps nurture the emotional bond between parent and child,” she said.

Each Timberland library will award a grand prize: a backpack filled with books selected especially for the winning family or classroom.

Many libraries will also have local drawings for books and other prizes during the program. Friends of the Library groups throughout the library system have generously provided many hundreds of books.

Complete details will be in libraries and online at no later than March 2, the date when kits will be at all Timberland libraries.