Library makes early literacy fun

The early literacy center at 95th Street Library in Naperville.  |  Submitted
The early literacy center at 95th Street Library in Naperville. | Submitted

Now that I’m a new aunt, I know firsthand the importance of teaching at an early age — from playing pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo to singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and desperately making every attempt to teach my niece how to say “Mary.”

Early literacy, which is defined as how much a child knows about communication, language, reading and writing before he or she can actually read and write, is significant in a child’s development.

Naperville Public Library has many programs that support early literacy and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational initiative. The programs provide children opportunities to indulge their natural curiosity by exploring the world through a variety of STEM activities.

One upcoming hands-on workshop is Rocking on the Road to Reading from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 30, at 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive. During the drop-in program, infants to 5-year-olds and their parent or caregiver can fish for alphabet letters, retell a story with puppets or count farms animals.

“We will have activities that support the five early literacy skills — reading, writing, talking, singing and playing — as well as science and math activities,” said Karen Burke, children’s services and early literacy librarian. “Adults can use these activities to help children learn more about the world, acquire new vocabulary and develop other early literacy skills.

“Having general knowledge and knowing more about how things work make it easier for children to understand what they read. The more experiences children have the easier it is for them to connect what they read to what they know. This leads to greater reading comprehension.”

With my niece, I’m solid on reading and singing. I’m also good at making her laugh with my dancing and facial gestures. But I am not sure I will feel as confident with my math and science skills, and Burke said many individuals feel this way.

“Children are natural explorers of their environment,” she said. “They are interested in the natural world and how things work; however, many adults are uncomfortable with math and science. We want to show them math and science can be fun and offer tips on things they can do at home.”

Another interactive program coming up is Bedtime Math from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. May 6 at 95th Street Library; May 8 at Naper Blvd. Library, 2035 S. Naper Blvd.; and May 9 at Nichols Library, 200 W. Jefferson Ave. Children in first through third grades and their families can dress in their favorite pajamas and create their own dominoes, solve tangram puzzles and play fun math games. Participants will take home party favors, too.

The younger me would have really loved programs like this. I wasn’t really a mathlete, but if I were able to wear my jammies and play dominoes, I would have been keener with my addition and subtraction.

For more upcoming children’s activities and programs, go to

Mary Rakoczy is a multimedia associate for the Naperville Public Library.