Play is one of the Early Literacy skills outlined in Every Child Ready to Read. Yet, babies in libraries are often overlooked in play programming, because there has traditionally been a struggle to engage their parents and caregivers enough to merit bringing babies to the library. While baby story times have often been champions of early literacy, they often leave out explorative and sensory play, opting for lap sit activities to contain the chaos.

At Suffolk Public Library, our Busy Babies program has had upwards of 90 people attend to play with their babies in the library, simply by hosting a monthly baby playdate. Join us for this interactive and informative program and discover how easy it is to engage this age group and their caregivers in sensory play, tummy time, and messy free play. Benefits for parents and caregivers who bring their babies to this program will also be discussed.

Participants will learn:
• The why and how for creating a baby playdate
• How to create stations for play that can be shared system-wide
• Strategies for engaging parents/ caregivers with their babies through sensory play

Original broadcast February 27, 2020

Biography ~ April Watkins
April has worked with children in some capacity her entire adult life, including six years as a high school journalism teacher, and three years as a Children’s Librarian. She can regularly be seen rocking rainbow knee-high socks, tulle skirts, blue hair, and pigtails as she embodies her childhood heroes, Rainbow Bright and Punky Brewster. She loves scrapbooking, alternative music, dystopian YA novels, and binge-watching. April has a BS in Education from Bowling Green State University and a MA in Library and Information Sciences from the University of South Florida. She currently serves as the Early Childhood Services Senior Librarian for Suffolk Public Library where she has started a city-wide reading initiatives, and transformed the way SPL conducts Early Literacy Outreach. She lives in Smithfield, VA with her husband, two sons, and their very large St. Bernard.