CADL Okemos Celebrates March is Reading Month In a New Way This Year
OKEMOS - In March, National Reading Month is celebrated by the nation every year in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The Capital Area District Library (CADL) in Okemos is celebrating with a March is Reading Month activity calendar to engage readers.
Youth Services Librarian Tom Shilts said that because of the pandemic, the Okemos Library has had to plan to celebrate March is Reading Month in a different way this year, virtually.
“This year we’re concentrating on doing things distanced through the virtual world,” Shilts said. “We’re having a March is Reading Month calendar that the families can come and pick-up. There’s little tasks that the kids do each day and you complete them and they get a prize at the end.”
Shilts said CADL is making a big push for early literacy, which include five practices of talking, writing, reading, singing and playing.
“Early literacy is what you need to know before you read, the skills you need to have in place, so that when you hit that moment where you’re ready to read, boom, you can do it,” Shilts said.
Reading is important among all ages for various reasons, but Shilts said for younger kids during this early literacy period, their brains are developing and will need to be exposed to language, pictures, books and one-on-one interactions with adults and peers.
“If they miss these really enriching experiences there’s a lot of synapses in their brains that actually don’t develop and once that window is closed, they don’t develop later on,” Shilts said.
For parents and caregivers who want to engage their younger children at home in reading, Shilts said that it’s okay if they want to read the same book multiple times a day, but if the adult wants to try something else, Shilts offers exposing the children to all types of different books in different genres to widen their interests and have fun while doing so.
“It might be boring to you as the adult, but the kid is getting something out of that each of those times,” Shilts said. “First the rhythm, they’re learning how language works, they’re learning how sentences are structured, they’re starting to identify, ‘oh look it, so that sound corresponds to this letter on that page,’”
There are multiple online events community members can be on the lookout for, including virtual storytimes, a virtual homeschool program twice a month, and an upcoming summer schedule.
“We hope that in the summer, we’re gonna be able to do some actual in-person live programs outside, social distanced,” Shilts said.
Shilts said his favorite part about being the Youth Services Librarian at CADL in Okemos is storytime and he’s eager to get back to it in person.
“Format doesn’t matter for your reading,” Shilts said. “If you like to listen to books, that’s just as valuable as reading them if you’re an adult, for kids it’s different, but just doing the reading and experiencing the reading in some way is a really helpful thing to do.”