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Program heralds return to reading
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Forsyth County News

Using puppets, songs and movement, stories read to preschoolers transform from listening activities to interactive learning experiences through the Forsyth County Library's Welcome Back to Books program.

The program was designed as a transition from summer to fall, even if the children aren't returning to school.

Vanessa Cowie, library programming coordinator, said the program is divided into two age groups: "Lapsit" and "Storytime."

Lapsit is for children ages 2 and 3. Storytime is for children ages 4 and 5.

Lapsit is 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes said Cowie. "We use shorter books and more active movement for those ages," she said.

"We use books that center on things that they'll encounter in their day, pets for example, members of their family, shopping trips and playing outside in the playground."

Donna Fowler, one of three regular readers, said she "loves seeing the children's' eyes light up when you read to them."

Fowler said she's been involved in the program for about a year. But with a background as a paraprofessional in an elementary school, working with children is nothing new to her, she said.

Sometimes children might divert their attention from the storytelling, Fowler said. For the most part, though, the ability to interact with each story keeps their attention.

"We'll give them a line to repeat or if we're doing animal sounds, we'll have them do animal sounds or have them repeat a line," she said. "You can tell right away if they're enjoying something."

Books will be divided by alphabet, Cowie said.

For example, on "A Day," stories will focus on airplanes and apples and "for the dandy D books, we have dinosaurs, dogs and daddies," she said.

"Magnificent M" books are scheduled for Monday and Wednesday this week, and "Super S books" will be read Tuesday and Thursday.

Unlike Storytime, where parents can browse the library while their children participates, Lapsit requires parental supervision.

Storytime, Cowie said, will focus more on skills like counting, getting ready for the day and eating a good breakfast.

"A lot of people ask if we just read books, and we don't just read books," she said.

"We read books, but very frequently, we'll have one or more puppets ... that can visit and talk with the kids after the program, and that happens almost always," Cowie said.

For Cowie, who has been working with the library for eight years, the best part of reading to kids is knowing she's contributed to their learning habits.

"Hearing them say something about the book afterward, that shows that they've heard the story and remembered it, so it's incorporated into their memory and their knowledge base," she said. "It's a platform they can build on with further learning."