Friday, March 7, 2014

The Libraries' Best Friend

When it come to children's literacy, research has shown that all the senses are important in the child's development. For example, we learn from Shenton & Dixon that the ability to touch and interact with various items is an important part of early informational-seeking activities. Hearing, too, both in the forms of being read to and in reading aloud for themselves.

One activity used by many libraries that engages all of the sense is the use of animals - typically dogs, although chickens are not unknown and almost any animal could be used - as passive audiences for beginning readers to practice on. The results are, as we see in Shaw, very promising on both the intellectual and social levels.

Most of these programs, however, still rely on the child being brought to the library to participate in them. I would suggest that the animal, especially if it's a dog, can also be its own outreach. By holding a session of these programs outside of the library space - in a public park of some kind is most likely, weather and local laws permitting - the program can be exposed to children (and their parents) who might not have heard of it before, with the positive effects being multiplied.

Further Reading:

Shaw, Donita (2013) Man's Best Friend as a Reading Facilitator, The Reading Teacher 66(5), 365-71.

Shenton, A. K., & Dixon, P. (2004). The development of young people’s information-seeking behaviour. Library & Information Research, 28(90), 31-39.

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