Check your grocery lists: milk, bread…and storytime?
“As I pivoted our library’s youth services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, I hoped to find a way to distribute materials to our community’s youth and their families,” Becky Hartman, Children’s Library at Hamburg Public Library, said.
Redner’s of Hamburg provided the perfect partnership by providing an easy and accessible way for the library to meet parents where they already were during the pandemic— the grocery aisle.
After gaining permission from Redner’s management last spring, Hartman created a library display next to the cash registers, containing free library activities tailored to different age groups. Kits included critical thinking puzzles, STEM projects, and literacy activities like the very popular Storytime Experience Kit.
“Our Storytime Experience Kits essentially offer parents and their children a prepackaged storytime, similar to those I hold in person at the Library during non-pandemic times,” Hartman said. The kits include elements of literacy, early math, motor skills practice, and hands-on learning opportunities like crafts and manipulatives. Some kits even correspond with virtual programs available on Hamburg Public Library’s Facebook page.
Another positive result of this partnership is that these easily accessible activities provide opportunities for parent-led learning experiences at home.
“Parents of little ones so often wanted to help their child learn at home, but lacked the resources to do so or weren’t quite sure how to meet their child’s early learning needs,” Hartman said. “It’s our hope that our Storytime Experience Kits build good routines and parents’ confidence in these areas.”
In total, 1743 activity kits have been distributed since spring 2020 between the Redner’s location and an identical display at the Hamburg Public Library. Community feedback has been overwhelming with some activities being claimed within an hour of being stocked.
“Our hearts and minds have been with our community throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and we are so happy we have a way to show them that,” Hartman said. “We are just so thankful for the opportunity to make a small difference in their lives during this difficult time.”
This innovative community partnership is just one example of how libraries in Berks County are reaching families during the pandemic. For more information about Berks Libraries’ collaborations with community partners and educators, check out the Berks Libraries Educator Newsletter.