Reading is rewarding: Library program strives to educate, socialize toddlers

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
Tiny Talons Story Time, a free early literacy program for children three and under, is held here twice a month to encourage lifelong learning, a love for reading and opportunity for children and their parents to socialize within the community.

The event occurs the second and fourth Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Academy's base library. It is open to any family with a Defense Department identification card and access to our facility, said Melanie East, a program coordinator at the library.

"It's not just for Air Force dependents and civilian dependents, but for anyone from any branch, retired or active-duty, civilian or contractor, to utilize information and have a safe place for social interaction for both child and parent," East said.

East, known as "Miss Melanie," said during story time she reads simple board books, with and without words, to make children comfortable with the material. She said they also sing songs, learn baby signs and nursery rhymes.

"Most babies don't see clear vision, they see shapes," said Mila Gaetano, director of the library. "Studies have shown that children who are often read to before the age of kindergarten tend to have a better vocabulary and sense of focus."

Reading aloud has been recognized as one of the most important activities in literacy, as well as the interaction and experiences with adults and older children, East said.

"Not only is this program a tool for parents to keep their children on target for milestones, but it's also a great social outlet for parents who may be uncomfortable in a larger setting or even a setting off of the military installations," East said. "There is comfort knowing that your adult peers will understand the military side of life and how parenting is unique within the community."

East said the library also offers regular story time on Fridays at 10 a.m., geared toward 3- to 5-year-olds with ages of attendees varying from birth to age 10.

"We have homeschooled children who participate as a family, as well as younger siblings who attend on a regular basis with two books being read and a craft activity to follow," East said.

The library is located at the Community Center and open Mondays to Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The library will also have nighttime events in upcoming months, such as a library campout for 5- to 12-year-olds March 8 at 6:30 p.m., East said.