I attended a Literacy Summit yesterday, coordinated by KSMQ, the local PBS station. I was one two librarians there (the other was Maryanne Law, from the Parenting Resource Center.) The rest of the folks were from AmeriCorps, United Way, Head Start, and various schools.
The meeting was amazing and incredibly informative. It was also an “Aha!” moment. Turns out, KSMQ has a wealth of material on literacy, on parenting, on the importance of reading to kids…..the list goes on and on. Much of this is available for the asking. The trouble is, no one knew to ask. No one knew this stuff even existed.
We were introduced to a number of programs that air on PBS, many of them specifically geared towards reading and literacy. Actually, I may have been the only one that was “introduced” to these shows; I inherited my daughter when she was 15 and I married her dad. As a result, many of the children’s shows aren’t on my radar.
One show really caught my attention: Between the Lions. For folks who, like me, aren’t up to speed on children’s programming, let me set the stage: It’s a family of lions and their friends….and the whole thing takes place in a library. This program is the coolest. Absolutely.
The show’s site explains:
It’s designed to foster the literacy skills of its viewers, while playfully demonstrating the joys of reading. Each show aims to give kids four to seven years old some of the experiences they need in order to become successful readers….Our “mane” characters, lion cubs Lionel (age 7) and Leona (age 4) serve as role models for younger viewers. Cleo and Theo are playful, understanding, and literary parents, who eagerly demonstrate the power and pleasure of literacy.
There are a host of other characters, of course. My favorite is Heath, the Thesaurus:
Heath the Thesaurus, an old, rumpled, yet peppy dinosaur-like creature, lives in the basement and runs the library’s reference department.
Heh. The reference librarian is a dinosaur. Don’t tell me they don’t have librarians working behind the scenes as consultants.
At any rate, there is an incredible opportunity here to work with KSMQ to reach young readers and their parents. There’s also an opportunity here for libraries to take advantage of the wonderful programming and materials that KSMQ has to offer.
For instance, did you know that if you tape a show on PBS, you can show it for a year?!? Why not tape episodes of Between the Lions and show it after school at your library?
Other thoughts that occur to me: link Clifford and Read to Me Dog programs; collaborate with the station in their Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest; collaborate with the station in their Share a Story program, where they get parents to read (or just tell a story) to their kids…..the list is virtually endless.
Why didn’t we think of this sort of collaborative relationship before? I can’t wait to see where this goes….
Originally published in SELCO Librarian.