A young girl reads a Dr. Seuss book during story time. – Photo by Catherine Hammond/Unsplash


Special to The Dallas Examiner


New spaces and initiatives at Dallas Public Library for the city’s youngest learners focus on building early literacy skills and engaging parents with the tools they need to help their children get ready to read.

The Central Library, along with 28 neighborhood branches, has installed Reading Ready Play Spaces – interactive play areas for children under age 5. Each space was furnished with toys that spark imagination, get families talking and encourage children to learn as they play with supplies such as kitchen sets with play food and non-electronic learning toys. The spaces are designed to make the library a welcoming environment where families can play, learn and grow together.

“Play has an important role in child development and literacy, as kids create stories and use new vocabulary in their play,” said Director of Libraries Jo Giudice.

Other new and ongoing early literacy initiatives at the libraries include regular story times, Books for Dallas Babies at Parkland Hospital, 1000 Books Before Kindergarten and Reading Ready Kits – take-home bags distributed through WIC offices that provide a bilingual book, learning toys and at-home learning instructions for parents.

“In all our early literacy efforts, we try to stress that parents are their children’s first teachers. The Reading Ready Kits, Books for Dallas Babies and the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten programs really focus on the easy things caregivers can do to help build the skills their toddlers need outside of the library or school,” Giudice said.

In the Spring, Dallas Public Library will launch Here Comes Kindergarten, a 6-week program to help children get school-ready by preparing them with the knowledge and social-emotional skills to succeed. Many Dallas kindergarteners start school below grade level and struggle to keep up with their classmates.

Mollie Finch Belt is the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Examiner. She attended elementary school in Tuskegee, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas. In 1961, she graduated from...

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