Monday, March 11, 2019

Local Literacy Initiative Provides Parent Training and Free Books to Prepare Kids for Kindergarten

Leap into Literacy, a local initiative formed to help Forsyth County preschoolers develop the early literacy skills required for success in kindergarten, springs into action again with a special parent education program, preschool storytime, and a book character visit next month.

Leap into Literacy with Peter Rabbit will be held in the Cafeteria at Cumming Elementary School, 540 Dahlonega Street, on Tuesday, March 12. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Families with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are invited to the event to enjoy a simple dinner, stories, a puppet show, and early literacy activities. Older siblings are also welcome to attend and admission to the event is free.

Parents and preschoolers practice writing at a Leap into Literacy event at Cumming Elementary in December.

“Spring is the perfect time for planting a garden, so we’ll be reading popular children’s books about gardens and animals you often find nibbling on garden plants at this season’s Leap into Literacy event,” says Programming Manager Tracy Walker.

Beatrix Potter’s beloved classic The Tale of Peter Rabbit, featuring a young bunny who sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden for a tasty treat, is just one of the stories participants will hear. Then, children will enjoy a visit from Peter Rabbit himself!

“Reading a book and then meeting one of the characters in person is a great way to help a child find joy and excitement in reading,” explains Walker.

Another way to help preschoolers get excited about reading and practicing pre-reading skills is to show parents simple ways to make those skills a part of daily activities at home.

“Our goal with Leap into Literacy is to help families understand how important it is to read, talk, sing, play, and write – even with very young children. Engaging in these simple activities is critical to helping children master the language and literacy skills needed to be successful in Kindergarten and later grades,” explains Forsyth County Schools Title I Director Amy Chang.

Amy Chang demonstrates shape identification and color matching as part of the take-home activity kit participants received a December’s Leap into Literacy event.

Chang and a team of librarians, educators, volunteers, and translators will lead activities during the event to show parents and caregivers how easy it is to practice the skills learned at Leap into Literacy at home.

“Our purpose with the Leap into Literacy initiative has always been to educate parents and caregivers so they can help their children become fully prepared to enter kindergarten,” explains Pamela Burlingame Miller, Executive Director of Literacy Forsyth.

Each participating child will receive a free book courtesy of Barnes & Noble at The Collection and Scholastic, as well as an activity kit created by the Leap into Literacy organizers.

The excitement on each child’s face as they learn to write their name or as they choose the book they want to take home from a Leap into Literacy program is an indicator that the program is having the desired effect, says Charity McDaniel, Outreach Coordinator at Georgia Highlands Medical Services.

“That spark of interest and excitement makes it more likely that the child will go home and ask a family member to read the story with them or help them practice drawing and writing, and using those skills at home is what we’re trying to encourage at every Leap into Literacy event,” adds McDaniel.

Leap into Literacy is sponsored by Forsyth County Public Library, Forsyth County Schools, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, and Literacy Forsyth. Leap into Literacy is also supported by a Community Impact Grant from the North Georgia Community Foundation and contributions from Scholastic, Inc., Forsyth County Public Library Friends and Advocates, Barnes & Noble, and other local businesses.

For more information on upcoming early literacy events, including this summer’s Leap into Literacy with Skippyjon Jones event, please visit www.forsythpl.org.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Celebrate the Holiday Season with the Gingerbread Man at Family Literacy Event

Preschoolers, toddlers, infants, and their families are invited to celebrate the stories of the season at Leap into Literacy with the Gingerbread Man, Wednesday, December 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the Cafeteria at Cumming Elementary School, 540 Dahlonega Street.

Admission to the event is free and advance registration is not required. While the program is designed for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, children of all ages are welcome to attend with a caregiver.

Parents and caregivers help children practice writing and using scissors at October’s Leap into Literacy with Biscuit event at Cumming Elementary School.

The event is the second in the 2018-2019 Leap into Literacy series and will feature a puppet show, stories and songs in English and Spanish, early literacy activities, and a chance to take a photo with the Gingerbread Man himself!

Participants will also enjoy a simple dinner from Rosati’s Pizza and an authentic gingerbread cookie baked by Gasthaus Tirol that children can decorate with toppings courtesy of Ingles Markets.

After meeting the Gingerbread Man and practicing a few simple early literacy activities, children will also receive a free book to take home, courtesy of Scholastic, Inc.

“Just over a year ago, Leap into Literacy was formed as a partnership between Forsyth County Public Library, Forsyth County Schools, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, and Literacy Forsyth because we recognized that local families need help preparing their children for success in kindergarten,” says Tracy Walker, Programming Manager at the library.

The program is designed to reach families with children from birth to age five with a series of four free early literacy events each academic year. The events include a storytime or puppet show program designed for preschoolers, a nutritious meal, and education activities that give parents and caregivers the ability to continue early literacy practices at home.


Leap into Literacy organizers agree on the importance of early literacy in preparing children for success in kindergarten and the holidays offer a wealth of opportunities to help children practice early literacy skills.

“Families love to tell stories and share their memories around the holidays and when we tell traditional stories or sing traditional songs, we’re often using words that aren’t as common in our speech at other times of the year. Learning these less common words increases a child’s vocabulary, and that becomes a predictor of reading readiness and success for children as they enter elementary school,” explains Amy Chang, Title I Director at Forsyth County Schools.

Information about literacy, education and health services from the library, Forsyth County Schools, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, and Literacy Forsyth will also be available during the program.

“In addition to helping parents and caregivers teach pre-reading skills to their children, Leap into Literacy also aims to connect families with young children to other free and low-cost services in Forsyth County,” adds Walker.

Leap into Literacy is sponsored by Forsyth County Public Library, Forsyth County Schools, Georgia Highlands Medical Services, and Literacy Forsyth. Leap into Literacy is also supported by a Community Impact Grant from the North Georgia Community Foundation, as well as contributions from Scholastic, Inc., Forsyth County Public Library Friends and Advocates, Barnes & Noble, and other local businesses.

For more information on upcoming early literacy events, including the next Leap into Literacy event in the spring, please visit www.forsythpl.org.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Visit an Early Literacy Story Walk at Warbington Farms

If your fall plans include a visit to Warbington Farms, but sure to check out the library's story walk located near the tractor in the Family Fun Park.


We're retelling The Three Little Pigs in a shortened story walk format that is ideal for families with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Start at the welcome sign near the front of the tractor, then read the story aloud with your children.

Parents and caregivers will also find five simple tips on the story walk from the library's 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program that will help you practice early literacy skills at home.


Be sure to pick up a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten flyer at the end your story walk and sign up for the program at forsythpl.beanstack.org.

The Scarecrow Trail at Warbington Farms will be on display September 15 through November 3, 2018.

You can vote for your favorite scarecrows in a special Scarecrow Trail photo album on the Warbington Farms Facebook Page or you can vote in-person at the farm through November 3.