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New Initiatives for Young Dallas Readers

Education

Children at Dallas Library | Image by Dallas Library/Facebook

Young readers across Dallas can now enjoy new educational spaces and literacy initiatives at Dallas Public Library locations.

They were created to help children develop early reading skills, according to a City of Dallas press release. Over the course of the fall, “Reading Ready Play Spaces” were installed at the Central Library and 28 branches across the city.

Director of Libraries Jo Giudice claimed that playing is vital in helping children learn to read.

“Play has an important role in child development and literacy, as kids create stories and use new vocabulary in their play,” Giudice stated in the release.

The furnishings in these spaces were designed to feel welcoming to children and their families. Reading spaces feature non-electronic toys and kitchen sets with toy food.

Dallas Public Library also set up initiatives to help parents develop their kids’ literacy skills from home. One of these initiatives is the “Reading Ready Kits.” The kits have instructions for parents, in addition to learning tools and a bilingual book.

Giudice further stated in the release that parents should see themselves as their child’s first teacher.

“In all our early literacy efforts, we try to stress that parents are their children’s first teachers. The Reading Ready Kits, Books for Dallas Babies and the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten programs really focus on the easy things caregivers can do to help build the skills their toddlers need outside of the library or school,” Giudice said.

A new spring program will also be launched to help Dallas children prepare for kindergarten.

“In the Spring, Dallas Public Library will launch Here Comes Kindergarten, a 6-week program to help children get school-ready by preparing them with the knowledge and social-emotional skills to succeed,” according to the release. “Many Dallas kindergarteners start school below grade level and struggle to keep up with their classmates.”

Such metrics continue to bear out at Dallas Independent School District (DISD,) the second biggest district in Texas.

DISD’s STAAR exams for the 2021-2022 academic year yielded dismal reading scores, with only 41% of third-graders, 36% of sixth-graders, and 51% of eighth-graders scoring at grade level.

Dallas Public Library is primarily taxpayer-funded, but the new literacy initiatives, programs, and spaces also drew funding from private donations and outside grants, including a Texas Reads grant and a gift from the Munson Family, according to the release. The initiatives were also made possible through the Friends of the Dallas Public Library.

Throughout the season, Dallas Public Library will be holding holiday events, according to the library’s website. On December 15, the library held a “Kids’ Christmas Concert” with Andy Mason and a Cocoa & Crafts with Santa event.

From December 20-23, young readers from ages 6-11 can check out a frosty Craft Kit from the Audelia Road Branch. Kits to create holiday wreaths will be available at the Vickery Park Branch from December 20 to 22. This mini-wreath can be made at the library or taken home, according to the event page, and all needed supplies are provided.

Upcoming toddler storytimes will be held on December 20, December 21, December 23, December 27, December 28, December 29, and December 30. The library will be closed all day on Christmas and the day after.

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