Last week, while all of Baltimore was battling a tremendous snow storm, I was in Florida presenting a “Transforming Preschool Storytime” workshop to an enthusiastic and receptive group of children’s librarians. I left feeling invigorated and delighted that our children have such a skillful group of educators devoted to helping them get the best start possible . While formal education may be cutting arts education and replacing it with academic work (even for the youngest children), children’s librarians are filling in gaps by introducing books and literature with songs, games, art projects, and drama. Examples were given of the creative programming that these librarians present on a regular basis to their preschoolers and school-aged children. Seeing the talent, the dedication and the true joy that these Florida librarians have in planning and presenting high-quality programs to their preschoolers was exhilarating.
Due to the snow in Baltimore, my flight was rescheduled a number of times, and I ended up spending an extra three days in Florida. I did not mind at all – those days included time with friends and a day visiting Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.
I’ve been back in Baltimore for a week, and today I received an unexpected card in the mail.
What a wonderful surprise!
During the workshops, when discussing developmental tips, I mention the story told to me by a librarian who went shopping in a supermarket in an unfamiliar town she was visiting. Behind her was a father with his daughter, estimated to be around age 3. The daughter took a kid-sized shopping cart at the supermarket entrance and went racing into the store. The father calmly stood there and called out, “And the drum says STOP” (a phrase connected to one of the Mother Goose on the Loose activities). The girl immediately froze. The father strolled to join her with his cart and the two happily continued shopping together in the store.
The phrase “the drum says STOP” is a clear give-away that they had been attending Mother Goose on the Loose programs. But the fact that the father used it to get his daughter to stop indicates that their children’s librarian probably cited one of the standard MGOL developmental tips: “All children need to learn the word STOP. If you wait until they are doing something dangerous and call out STOP in a panicked tone of voice, your child will probably giggle and continue doing whatever it was. But, if you play freeze games at home, using a pot as a drum or anything else, then your child will become accustomed to stopping automatically when you request it. So, try playing freeze games with your child at home.”
We don’t know who the librarian was in that town, but there is little doubt that a developmental tip gave this father the idea to play freeze games with his child, using the exact expression “and the drum says STOP” to let his daughter know that it is time to STOP NOW. I suspect, however, that their librarian has no idea that this dad listened to her tip and took the suggestion to play freeze games at home.
I use this example to show the power of developmental tips. Children’s librarians can be important influences for good, not only with children but with their parents and caregivers as well. A friendly face, a welcoming voice, a font of information, and a true partner in the nurturing of children makes children’s librarians heroes is so many ways. But, they don’t often to get feedback that lets them know about the impact they’ve had on so many families. For instance, the librarian of this particular dad and daughter might never know that her tip made a difference in their lives. But it did!
We also talk about positive feedback and how clapping for a child who pulls Humpty off his wall, or using positive words when children tap “STOP” on the drum gives them the incentive to continue paying attention, waiting for their turn, and following directions.
It is not often that people are told they have had a positive impact on the lives of other. Children’s librarians have positive impacts every day, but rarely get the feedback enabling them to know that they have made a difference to in people’s lives. In addition to a wonderful workshop and a fun week in Florida, I am grateful to have received this lovely piece of positive reinforcement. Thank you, Jodi!