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Books and Babies Program Adds to the Building of Neural Pathways


July 3, 2019

The Blaine County Library invites parents and caregivers to participate in their Books and Babies program. In its first year, the program is designed to build language and social skills. The program, which began on June 7, meets on Friday mornings from 10:30-11:30 through July 5.

Librarian Valerie Frank reported that the Books and Babies program began as a request from local parents. “Anytime we try a new program, it takes a while for it to take off, so we will continue to offer this program at least for the summer and assess whether it is a viable one for our community,” Frank said.

According to the National Institute of Education, the single most important activity for knowledge development is oral interaction with children. To grow up emotionally and cognitively healthy, children under three need reliable primary caregivers who provide unconditional love, guidance, and support; safe, predictable, stable environments; and ten to twenty hours each week of harmonious, reciprocal interactions. These interactions can take the form of talking, singing, storytelling, or reading.

Reading is at the heart of education because the knowledge of almost every subject flows from reading. Research further shows that reading aloud is a key strategy for building vocabulary and boosting achievement. In fact, a child’s vocabulary upon entering school is a prime predictor of school success or failure. Furthermore, boys who are read to by their fathers score significantly higher in reading achievement. Given that final statistic, fathers are also encouraged to participate in the library’s Books and Babies program.

A national, nonprofit organization that works to ensure that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development, ZERO TO THREE asserts that all learning is easier if the first three years are enriched and that waiting until age five is too late, as we miss the opportunity to contribute to the building of neural pathways. Therefore, investing in high quality early education is the best way to set children on a path for long-term success.

Because babbling is a foundation for speaking, responding to baby’s babble and talking to babies makes them smarter. This form of play is fundamental to a baby’s language growth and neural pathway development. Reading children’s books, with their opportunity for silly voices and with their nonsense words, patterns, and rhyming, provides a foundation for this kind of play while developing language skills.

Older siblings are welcome to join as reading helpers, making the Books and Babies program a family affair.


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