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A Visit From the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Once a month, you might see a small sheet of paper with the words, “A Visit From the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh” across the top. This paper will likely appear among the daily assortment of preschool take home papers that accompany your child at the end of the day. So, your child had a visit from a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) Children’s Specialist. What does that mean?

If you have ever brought your child to a storytime program in a branch of CLP, you may be familiar with the mix of stories, songs and other activities that a Children’s Specialist uses to create an enriching and engaging storytime for young children. A visit to a school, also known as “outreach”, is similar. It’s a storytime program “to go”.

If you haven’t attended a storytime program before, a typical outreach from the Library might go a little something like this:

Your friendly neighborhood Children’s Specialist arrives with a cart full of books and other interactive storytelling items. These items can be anything from a felt board or finger puppets, to scarves and shaker eggs, depending on what the Specialist has in mind. Often the stories and items will revolve around a theme such as animals or Winter.

During the half hour storytime, the Specialist will usually begin with a familiar greeting. They will then read a book and follow it with an activity using one of the storytime items. Then they will read a second book, do another activity and if there is time, read a third book before finishing with a familiar goodbye.

For instance, this month during a Winter themed storytime, I read the book Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre. After the book, I passed out my scarves and then led the class in some snow themed songs and dances using the scarves as a prop. After collecting my scarves, I read a book about snowmen, then taught the children some songs about snowmen and snowflakes. Finally, I asked them to join me in the “Snowkey Pokey”. By that time my half hour was almost up, so I sang a goodbye song, packed up my bag and gave the teacher the handout to distribute to parents and caregivers.

Cover of the book, Best in Snow

One of the goals in early education (and the Library as well) is to establish a connection to the child’s home and their caregiver. We want you to know what your child was up to in school: the good stuff! The handout you receive gives you a small list of books that the Specialist read to the class that day. It may also have tips for you to talk about the books at home with your child. It may have the songs we sang so that you can join along if your little one is dancing like a snowman in the living room before dinner. Children’s Specialists personalize the content of the handout to the storytime that they deliver during their visit. It’s a way to let you know what your child did and learned that day, as well as a resource for you to use if you’re looking for a good bedtime story or something to talk about on the trip back home after school.

We know you have a lot of papers to sort through at the end of a busy workday, but the next time you see the one that says, “A Visit From the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh”, maybe stick it to the refrigerator. Save it for the weekend when it’s windy and cold, and the best thing to do is share a story, some cuddles and cocoa with your little one.

Korie is part of the Library’s Early Learning BLAST Outreach team. Her favorite children’s authors are Kevin Henkes and Audrey and Don Wood. She enjoys making sensory bottles, taking long walks through small neighborhoods and ‘80’s era fantasy films.  

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