Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Today was a good day at work. I made an outreach visit to a First Words Screening Clinic at a local community centre, and it was a lot of fun. Basically, I hang out in the waiting room with the families until they are called in, and since it takes each family about 15 mins to be interviewed, the wait can really drag. I brought 4 books (I know, not a lot, but I can't carry the whole library!) and, since I've done one of these clinics before, I have to say, I totally chose the best books. In case you're wondering, I brought My little sister ate one hare, by Bill Grossman, Who's under that hat? by Sarah Weeks, Mille Mimi (or Maisy, if you prefer) by Lucy Cousins, and De quelle couleur est ta culotte? by Sam Lloyd. See, the key is, simple books that translate easily, since the families are (possibly) francophone and/or anglophone. Plus, the children are there because their parents are concerned about their language development, so you don't want to discourage or intimiate them. Lift-the-flaps are good. The totally obvious is good. And underwear... well, books about underwear are always a good choice.

It went well, the families read the books together and separately, I read to all the kids individually, they played with the Mimi/Maisy and Lola dolls I brought, and I handed out Every Child Ready to Read pamphlets, library program information and my cards. I even got one kid to participate in the hokey pokey, but he was totally just humouring me.

What was interesting, too, was that two of the parents asked me for help filling out the forms they were given by the clinic. It is discouraging to see how literacy can be an intergenerational problem, too. I also had a neat conversation with a mum who was in the middle of her first Canadian winter, having arrived in Dec. from Australia. She's already brought her daughter to skate on the canal.

When I got back to the branch, one of my colleagues was telling me that the executive director of one of our partner organisations had stopped by while I was gone, and was almost moved to tears by the Black History Month display that I had put up (and my colleagues Monica and Kristina helped fill!) Seriously, apparently she took pictures. And she is bringing a class in to look at it. It's nice when you see your work concretely appreciated!

Yesterday, a little girl (4, max.) watched with rapt attention while I repaired a minor tear to a page of a picture book for her. When I was done, I clapped it shut and gave it back to her, whereupon she bounced (literally) back to her reading chair, hollering YAY!

If only we could solve all our problems so quickly and efficiently....

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