Monday, November 11, 2013

Baby Book Bees

When I first came to my library they were already offering a fabulous 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative. The name literally says it all. Basically, you encourage parents to read 1,000 books with their kids before kindergarten. This is a great initiative and the families in our area have responded very enthusiastically, but I felt like something was missing.

Our 1,000 Books program is marketed for children between the ages of 1-5. What about the babies under one? I've found that parents of infants are constantly looking for things to do. There are very few things for infants here, especially things that don't cost money. How could we better serve this population? The answer was Baby Book Bees.


Going off the model of 1,000 Books B4K, I decided to make it an initiative to get parents to read 100 books to their children before they turn one. Almost identical to our new 1,000 Books sheets, I made half-sheets for our parents with 25 shapes to fill in. On the back of each sheet there are four early literacy tips.



When a parent signs up, they are given a lovely yellow folder with information about the initiative, their first shape sheet, and a bib celebrating their enrollment.














Once the parent has read 25 books they come back and visit us. We make a huge fuss at the desk with lots of clapping, and then we give them stickers and a new sheet. They put their sticker on our 1000 Book Garden Wall on a matching bee.


Once they hit 100 books they get their own board book to keep. Plus, they are given a 100 book head-start on 1,000 Books B4K.


This is a wonderful program on so many levels. First, it creates at least 4 library visits by new parents. They are beginning to establish the tradition of coming to the library on a regular basis. It also is giving parents a powerful message of how important reading is to a child at any age. Plus, once the groundwork is laid for the program, it is not staff intensive at all!

To get the word out about this new initiative we decided to partner with the two local hospitals. Both hospitals give out a packet of information to each new mom during their hospital stay. We were able to get a half-sheet of information in these packets. They also agreed to put up posters in various offices that are visited frequently by new moms and in waiting rooms.

We decided we wanted to start with enough material for 200 participants and bought accordingly. We predicted we would get about 100 people enrolled within our first year. We officially launched a month ago and we have 28 people signed up! There was clearly a need for this in our community and we are overwhelmed with the great responses we've had from both parents and community members.

I applied for a Target Early Childhood Reading grant to get the initial funds. We were lucky enough to get chosen. If you have not looked at the grants before, please go visit. The grants are entirely online and the Target tech team is very helpful if you run into any glitches.

Are you offering anything for under ones? If not, you should consider Baby Book Bees!

16 comments:

  1. Wonderful idea, Brooke! Thanks for sharing. An admiring librarian from Illinois

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  2. Love love looooove this. We don't do 1000 B4K so this might be a nice "soft opening" to start the program. :-)

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    1. Yes! Definitely do it. It is a cheaper and easier way to introduce your library/patrons to the 1,000 B4K concept. Let me know if you need anything!

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  3. Hey Brooke. We (hopefully) will be getting a grant coming our way and 1000B4K would be a great plan for the grant. I like the idea that your library has 1000B4K for 1-5 since they receive the most fun from it (babies prolly wouldn't get it. Prolly.). So, if a participant finishes 100 books before they turn 1, can they graduate into the next program?

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    1. Ya for grants! Once they finish 100 books we go ahead and sign them up for 1,000 books and give them a 100 book head start. But they don't get their folder and officially start the program till they are 1. Once the baby is one they come back and we give them their sign up gift (a tote bag).

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  4. I love everything about this! I've been wanted to start a program with our local hospital providing new parents with a little care package with early literacy tips, info about baby storytimes, signing up for a library card, etc. -- Something like this would be perfect to include! Well done :)

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    1. Thank you! I think partnering with the hospital has definitely helped us reach a new audience. We've found that a lot of new parents are just trying to find a welcoming space, and this is a great way to get them in the door.

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  5. I absolutely LOVE this idea! So awesome that you were granted funds to support this effort! I would like to share this site with you to pass along to parents. It addresses ways to begin a life long love for reading and turn it into a family tradition beginning from the moment of pregnancy. Hope you enjoy it!
    http://www.babysbooksandbubblesohmy.blogspot.com

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  6. SO exciting! I finally got my branch's approval. Now I'm working on funding! Such a fantastic idea.

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    1. Congratulations! The grant cycle is open right now for Target Early Literacy grants. You should apply! Let me know if you have any questions :)

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  7. I'm trying to set up the budget for it, do you have any suggestions for where to order the bibs? Everywhere I look, they look so generic and bland

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    1. We actually went through a local print shop. They were able to give us exactly what we wanted and they gave us a great price. It might be worth calling one or two in your area.

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  8. Love this idea - from a preschool teacher in country Australia - I am going to shamelessly borrow to propose this to any funding body I can go to.

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    1. Borrow away!!! We have started working with our preschools and daycares in our community to partner with us for this program. Please feel free to contact me if you need any additional information or have any questions. My email is berache at gmail . com

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