To the Editor:
I am a resident of Arlington and I wanted to write in to express how impressed I am with the programs my local library has in place to promote literacy in children. I am hoping that by sharing, others in my community will become interested and involved with the programs at the library. Their program “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” incentivizes parents to read 1,000 books to their children before they enroll in kindergarten. By offering little rewards along the way and a free book to any family that completes the 1,000 book challenge it encourages families to read together and for parents to help their toddlers develop language skills.
The average American child from age 2-5 watches 32 hours of television per week. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 watch about 28 hours. Seventy-two percent of children ages 8 and under have used a tablet or smartphone — and nearly a third of all babies under the age of 2. These are alarming statistics considering that studies have shown children below the age of 2 should not watch television. During this period of time their brains are growing and developing, electronic stimulation cannot replace human education and parental interaction. In addition to the general importance of literacy and language development, programs like this encourage parents to be actively involved with their children.
I also think the library’s American Girl Doll Lending Program is really excellent. Through this program, older children are encouraged to borrow a historical American Girl Doll from the library. Along with the doll, they receive the first book in the doll’s collection — detailing the time period that the doll’s character grew up in — as well as a book explaining what was happening in Arlington during that time period. Creative play is extremely important for a child’s physical, social, and cognitive development.
Borrowing the doll and reading about its historical context educates and creates structured free play. Additionally, time spent at the library for doll-related events allows children to play with one another and share their doll’s historic experiences.