Take Home an Elephant and a Pig?

That’s what librarians at the R.H. Stafford Library in Woodbury and the Valley Library in Lakeland are asking parents to do this coming summer! It’s just one of the fun summer programs being offered at Washington County Libraries during the summer.

Actually, it is kids who are being asked to take home story characters Elephant and Piggie of the stuffed-animal variety. Kids and parents pick up the pachyderm and oinker on a Monday for a week’s stay at their home and return them to the library on a Saturday. The animals come with their very own travel bag, packed with a journal. Kids and their parents are asked to document their experiences together by adding notes to the journal, maybe add some photos or a flyer for an event they have attended, and more.

I love this idea! I want to be a 4-year old or the parent of a 4-year old again. I can’t think of a better way to encourage conversation between parent and child? “What shall we do to entertain Elephant and Piggie? Where will they sleep? Should they be allowed to go to the pool, or do we need to get a baby sitter? Do we need to read about elephants and pigs to find out about their habits?” Talking together – that’s one of the early literacy practices that help children become prepared to read.

I can’t think of a better way to encourage kids to write, or at least think about what to write. Parents and kids will have to put their heads together about what to say. And parents are probably going to have to put the words in the journal. But just think about the ensuing conversations: “How do we explain the strawberry jam stain on Piggie’s face? Do we tell about the time Elephant fell out of bed?” Writing together – that’s another one of those early literacy practices that help children become prepared to read.

The whole experience is just a hoot! It’s playing together and imagining, making things up, having fun! Uh oh, another one of those early literacy practices that help children become ready to read.

At the end of the summer, kids can gather for special Elephant and Piggie Storytimes — being offered at both libraries – to find out about Elephant and Piggie adventures at Library Kids’ homes. There will be stories, a game, and a craft, as well.

The “Take Home Elephant and Piggie” program has my vote for best new summer program of the season. I could really get into it!

Bookawocky Summer Reading starts June 7 and continues through August 9 at all Washington County Branch libraries. Kids birth through grade 6 can complete 10 of 16 literacy activities to earn a completion reward, write (or draw) reviews for a chance to win prizes, attend fun summer programs, and more. There are Bookawocky programs for teens and adults, as well.

Keep that June 7 start date in mind! Have fun reading all summer long!

Library Woman is Joey Halbach, Community Relations Librarian for Washington County Library. Contact her at: joey.halbach@co.washington.mn.us