The Anson County Partnership for Children revitalized Storytime about four years ago, and it has held strong every Wednesday, to build vital skills in children.
“Every week, Storytime books are based off a theme,” said Caroline Goins, director of the Partnership. “Books are chosen to engage children in math, science, history, poetry, multi-culturalism, health and well-being, developing good character, creative problem solving, etc.”
Goins said that starting in September, Tracy Harrington will be hosting Storytime in the Early Childhood Resource Center.
The children attending Storytime range from ages two months to 10 years old, during school breaks. “The average Storytime ranges dramatically due to the academic school calendar and variety of child driven extracurricular activities,” Goins said. “The Partnership will host Storytime for one child or full classrooms.”
Alexandra Harrington, literacy and community outreach coordinator, is responsible for implementation and management of Partnership literacy programs in the county. These programs include Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Reach Out and Read, Raising a Reader, Motheread, and book distributions. However, Karen Gerald, child care services coordinator, and Tracy Harrington, early childhood resource center coordinator, share reading during Storytime because of their background as early childhood educators. Throughout the year, the Partnership had special guest readers such as Anson High football coach Ralph Jackson, Tooth Fairy Natalie from Anson Pediatric Dentistry, Justin Jones, science teacher extraordinaire, Spanish teacher Laura Robinson for bilingual storytime, and more.
“Storytime addresses the need for parent involvement with reading and increasing children’s excitement for reading,” Goins said. “Reading is the fundamental part of learning and crucial for child development. Storytime offers the opportunity for socialization for children not attending childcare facilities or school.”
Goins said that children learn through play, and that Storytime allows children to enjoy a book through their senses. Parents are required to attend Storytime with their children. She said that the Partnership “wanted to encourage parents to look at the different ways to enjoy a book with children,” because “some parents do not feel comfortable reading out loud due to their reading level.”
During Storytime at the Partnership, they demonstrate with parents that reading can be done through oral storytelling, picture walk-through, and other activities. The two main goals of Storytime are to excite children about learning and reading and to encourage parents to share the pure and simple joy of reading with their children at home.
“Storytime is also a great coaching tool for parents interested in techniques to make reading time with their children more engaging,” Goins said. “Other activities are included to demonstrate to parents how to bring a book to life through songs, crafts, and dramatic play.”
Goins said that they want to spark a love for reading at the earliest age possible. The Partnership sends books home with the children after Storytime, in hopes that they are excited about reading outside of the Storytime events.
“The National Association for the Education of Young Children explains that reading with a child helps build fundamental skills that will be vital throughout their years of learning’” Goins said. “Reading with a child builds vocabulary, critical thinking skills, increases sense of self and introduces the entire world in the comfort of their home.”
The mission of the Partnership is to help make Anson County a better place to be a child and to raise a child. The reading sessions and other programs offered by the Partnership will “develop skills to prepare them for success in kindergarten and throughout life.”
The Partnership has other programs similar to its Storytime program. The Motheread program works with parents to increase their literacy skills and model reading techniques, so they can be more effective when reading with their children. Raising a Reader is a program to get books into the homes of families every week and to encourage reading in the home. In The Reach out and Read program, the Partnership teams up with local pediatricians to encourage parents to read with their children starting at birth.
“Arguably our signature literacy program is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library,” Goins said. “This program sends books to the homes of Anson County children between birth to five years of age. Also, we give out books at community events and to childcare providers.”