Parents of preschoolers, toddlers, and infants are invited to bring their children to celebrate the stories of the season with Laura Numeroff’s beloved book character Cookie Mouse at Leap into Literacy on Tuesday, December 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Cumming Elementary School, 540 Dahlonega Street. Admission to the event is free.
Leap into Literacy is a local early learning initiative organized by the Forsyth County Public Library (FCPL) and Forsyth County Schools (FCS) to help parents practice early literacy skills to better prepare their young children for success in kindergarten.
“The program begins with a simple meal, an age-appropriate storytime, and a short puppet show that introduces parents to the five early literacy practices of reading, talking, singing, writing and playing,” explains FCPL Programming Manager Tracy Walker.
Then, families rotate through early literacy learning stations in which librarians, educators, and translators demonstrate free and easy ways that parents and caregivers can practice the five early literacy skills with their children at home.
“Local assessments of students entering our kindergarten classrooms show that we need to continue to focus on language and literacy skills, such as differentiating between letter sounds in spoken words or tracking printed words from left to right and top to bottom of a page,” explains FCS Title I Director Amy Chang.
Parents who engage in early literacy activities with their kids in a purposeful way – such as asking open-ended questions, slowing down the speed of their speech, and allowing kids to draw or scribble – can help their children build the early literacy and learning skills they need for success in kindergarten.
The Leap into Literacy initiative is now in its third season and organizers have fine-tuned selections of books, stories, songs, and writing or drawing activities to help families practice both academic skills, such as letter and number identification, and social skills, such as working in a group or following simple instructions.
“Leap into Literacy doesn’t just provide parent education. Thanks to support from Women United for Forsyth County United Way and the FCPL Friends & Advocates, we’re able to give families that attend each event a free book and activity mat to take home so they have the materials they need to continue helping their child prepare for kindergarten,” says Walker.
For many children, meeting Cookie Mouse and taking home a book featuring his character will be the highlight of the event.
“Laura Numeroff’s books are well known and loved by preschoolers, so it will be a treat for those young readers to see one of their favorite characters up close and in person,” says Walker.
More importantly, Walker adds, is that seeing the character and reading books such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or If You Take a Mouse to School inspires kids to make connections between written language, spoken words, and their real world surroundings.
“Those connections are so important for helping young children build language and literacy skills. When we see a child get excited about reading a book, or learning how to write their own name, or explaining something wonderful they experienced at a Leap into Literacy event, we know we had a small part in setting them up for success, and that’s very rewarding for us as educators,” says Chang.
FCPL and FCS are grateful for the support of organizations like Women United for Forsyth County United Way and the FCPL Friends & Advocates. Additional support from others in the community who have a passion for helping kids become lifelong learners are welcomed.
Sponsorship opportunities are available for next spring’s Leap into Literacy with Taco Dragon events, when the initiative expands to serve families near Chestatee Elementary School in March 2020. Any individual or business interested in supporting Leap into Literacy should contact Tracy Walker at 678-513-9364.
For more information on Leap into Literacy with Cookie Mouse or other free early literacy programs, such as 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, please visit www.forsythpl.org.