Bounces, books and babies

Richmond Library introduces interactive programming for infants and toddlers thanks to grant from William Penn Foundation

Barbara Tait blows bubbles for babies during the first Read, Baby, Read, ‘My First Storytime’ at Richmond Library. PHOTO: MEGHAN DONDERO

By Melissa Komar

Scarves, sign language and singing were just some aspects of a fun-packed storytime for Port Richmond’s youngest residents on Thursday morning.

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently received a two-year, approximately $590,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation to implement more programming for the youngest generation of book worms at its Port Richmond and Lucien E. Blackwell West Philadelphia branches.

Read, Baby, Read, the program supported by the grant, is geared toward children ages birth to 2 years old and their parents and caregivers.

Thursday marked the program’s second “My First Storytime” event at Richmond Library, which is scheduled for Thursdays.

The 30-minute program is a hands-on opportunity for parents to interact with their little ones.

Storytime started with a song introducing each baby by name.

After introductions, Barbara Tait, the early childhood specialist for Read, Baby, Read, led parents and babies alike on a bouncing, boisterous adventure of books, finger games and rhymes.

“The babies are mostly in their parents’ laps because they’re not moving around too much yet,” Tait said. “They’re moving their body parts, and tickling, and just having fun.”

Rhymes ranged from “Wheels on the Bus” to “Zoom, zoom, zoom,” both which required parents to bounce and have babies “blast off” laps.

Each week, Tait introduces a new sign for parents’ to teach their babies to support communication in conjunction with language development.

“More” and “eat” are the signs Tait has taught so far.

“Walkers and Talkers Pajama Storytime” will be held on Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. and is geared toward toddlers who are more mobile, with “lots of songs that work well to have kids up and moving around or sitting in caregivers’ laps,” according to Tait.

While the Read, Baby, Read storytimes take place in the library, the grant provides funding for pop-up programs in the community.

And, the grant will allow the early childhood specialists “over the course of two years, to buy items to reimagine the space and pilot ideas on how to make the space better for babies, such as a shoe-free area where babies can have tummy time or a nursing area… so, the grant helps us meet these needs in the library space,” Tait said.

Additionally, there will be take-home kits supporting playtime at home available for check-out and parent workshops featuring special guests speakers on topics from lead to healthy eating.

When the weather permits, pop-up events will be held outside, possibly in Powers Park.

Regardless of whether storytime takes place in the library or in the park, fostering a love for reading at a young age is the goal.

“The programs are meant to provide more services and support for families with children ages 0 to 2, so they are developing into readers, good citizens and active learners,” Tait said.

For more details about Read, Baby, Read programs at Richmond Library, 2987 Almond St., contact Barbara Tait at taitb@freelibrary.org or call the Richmond Library at 215–685–9992. Older siblings are permitted to attend storytime. To sign up for text message reminders for Read, Baby, Read events at the Richmond Library, text @portrichmo to the number 81010. The next Walkers and Talkers Pajama Storytime will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m. The next My First Storytime will be held on Thursday, Feb 8, at 11 a.m.