A love of literature

Library early literacy programs give young readers a head start

Local author Una Belle Townsend shares a character from her picture book, “Grady’s in the Silo,” during a story time session for children at Mabel C. Fry Public Library. The library is a strong advocate of early child literacy and sponsors age-specific programs to help young readers get a great head start. (Photo provided)

By Traci Chapman
Managing Editor

Scholarly research isn’t often unanimous, but on one point experts appear to agree – children who have access to books and reading from a very early age are most likely to excel in their studies later.

That’s why Mabel C. Fry Public Library sponsors three age-specific early literacy programs aimed at helping babies, toddlers and preschool-age children get a strong early footing, Librarian Sara Schieman said.

“Our early literacy programs are designed to introduce children to pre-reading skills while meeting new friends and having fun – by sharing our love of reading with local children the library can positively impact the literacy rate in our community,” Schieman said. “Our goal is to instill a love of books and reading in our youngest patrons.”

The Yukon library’s early literacy programs are divided by age into three sessions – for infants from birth to 18 months; toddler-specific for children from 18 months to 3 years; and preschool sessions developed for children ages 3 years through those nearing kindergarten age.

“While themes are the same for all ages, sessions are slightly different, as they are geared to be age appropriate,” Schieman said. “Parents and caregivers attend baby story fun and toddler story fun with their child, while preschool story time helps foster independence by allowing participants from 3 to kindergarten age to attend on their own.


“All sessions feature books, rhymes, songs and more,” she said.

Baby story fun sessions begin at 10 a.m. Wednesdays; toddler and preschool programs begin at 10:40 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively. All three programs are free of charge to participants.

Trisha Knous is the library’s early literacy programmer and has faced several challenges in recent years, as the Mabel C. Fry’s staff dealt with their dedication to provide programs while maintain health and safety protocols necessary in the face of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Schieman said. That meant a transition – to offering early literacy programs online via Niche Academy; families who elect the online option pick up craft bags each Wednesday that complement that week’s session.

Advance registration is required not only to receive craft bags but for anyone wishing to attend programs in person, as space is limited. All three early literacy programs are available to a small group of children at the library, as well as online.

While the current slate of sessions is set to continue through April 27, Schieman and her staff are already looking forward to the summer and a more expanded slate of programs, she said. With COVID-19 cases currently remaining low, the director is planning to move toward more in-person programming – although online options would remain.

“COVID-19 caused us to pivot and find ways to serve our patrons with virtual programs, gradually moving to limited in-person attendance,” Schieman said. “This summer we hope to return to a more normal program with more in-person attendees, but we will still offer a recording of the programs so that families can access the program any time that fits their schedule.”

Niche Academy recordings are available anytime through the library’s online catalog, located at https://fry.biblionix.com/catalog/; under the heading of “electronic resources,” Niche Academy is one of several offerings available for access.

Mabel C. Fry Public Library is located at 1200 Lakeshore Drive and can be reached by calling (405) 354-8232. Schieman can also be reached via email at sschieman@yukonok.gov.