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Music and literacy, sittin’ in a tree …

By Chelsea Rhae Childers

Rowan Public Library

Will you be my Valentine? February inspires us to brood over the people and passions in life that we love. For example, I love music, and I also love literacy.

Few people realize that a love of music can help with early literacy, or that music and reading are directly connected because of the origin of books. Before printed text, people passed on information by telling stories. Every village had a storyteller who used melodic chants and songs intertwined with their spoken words. These stories, passed on through the generations, were part of the history of oral tradition, which led to written language and books.

Let’s think about what it takes to become a reader, from an early age. To become a successful reader, we must master alphabet recognition, understand how to assimilate printed material, use background knowledge of oral language to build vocabulary and have phonological awareness.

Which is the most important? Studies have shown oral language development is the most important for children to later comprehend what they are reading. What should we do to emphasize this? Involve early readers in activities that expose them to oral language, including songs.

We’ve created a children’s music program here at the Rowan Public Library that I lead. It includes a variety of ways to develop children’s oral language using higher-level vocabulary, informative and challenging songs, thoughtful questions and discussions with rich explanations, and deeper dives into topics that are interesting.

Although parents, caregivers, teachers and guardians are the chief resources in language development, there is a high level of influence children have on one another. This music program encourages children to interact with each other as they come to understand written language. By learning rhymes, singing songs, and engaging in word play, language skills come alive.

Music with Miss Chelsea takes place at Rowan Public Library headquarters on March 2 and April 27 at 11 a.m. in the children’s room. Beginning this fall, our goal is to launch “Songbird Storytime,” a weekly music program incorporating a small-group reading experience for children to participate in dramatic play. This will include musical instruments, so be prepared to hear a bit of joyful noise as young literacy skills blossom at your library.

“Heroes of the Underground Railroad”: By Bright Star Touring Theatre, headquarters, Wednesday and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. This powerful and accessible family production explores the lives and work of notable abolitionists and slaves from America’s Underground Railroad.  The show provides a fundamental historical context of the time period while recreating the lives and work of heroes such as Harriet Tubman, Henry ‘Box’ Brown, John Parker and Frederick Douglass.

This hour-long, family-friendly program is open to the public and best suited for ages 8 to adult. Doors open at 6 pm. For more details, call 704-216-8245.

Dr. Seuss Scavenger Hunt: Headquarters, through Feb. 28. Join us in celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with a scavenger hunt featuring your favorite Dr. Seuss characters. Children who complete the hunt will be entered into a contest for a prize. For more information, call 704-216-8234.

Be My Valentine: East, through Feb. 28. Spread the love to different areas in the library with a Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt. Participants will be entered in a contest for a literary-themed prize. For more information, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

PJ Storytime: Headquarters, Monday, 6:30 p.m. Put on your pajamas, grab a blanket and your favorite stuffed animal, and join us for a special evening storytime. Recommended for children 3-11 years old, though all children are welcome. For more information, call 704-216-8234.

Lego Saturday: Headquarters, Feb. 23, 10 a.m.-noon. Legos are available for creative free play. For children. For more details, call 704-216-8234.

Escape room: The Spy Who Dumped Me, Tuesday, 4-5:30, headquarters; Wednesday, 4-5:30 p.m., South; Thursday, 4-5 p.m., East. It’s been a bad day: First, you were dumped by the international secret agent you were dating, and now your ex’s arch-enemy has trapped you inside a high-security prison. Will your spy skills allow you to escape in time? This program is for teens. Questions? Call 704-216-8258.

Chapter Chats: East, Feb. 19, 5:15-6 p.m. Weekly book club for teens 14-17, intended primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, though all are welcome. For more details, contact Tammie at 704-216-7842.

Blind Date with a Book: East, through Feb. 28. Life is full of surprises. All ages are welcome to experience the mystery of checking out an unknown book and discovering what’s under the wrapping. For more details, call 704-216-7842.

Google Drive basics: Tuesday, 6-7 p.m., headquarters. Learn more about Google Drive, a cloud-based tool that can be used to save anything online. This program is appropriate for all ages and skill levels. The group will meet in the computer lab on the second floor. For more details, call 704-216-8242.

Lunch at the Library: East, Feb. 22, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy a clean, Wi-Fi-accessible, peaceful place to eat lunch. The East Branch meeting room will be open. Lunch not provided, but tables, chairs and ambiance supplied. While in the library, check out upcoming programs and free resources. For more details, call 704-216-7840.

49 Days of Gratitude programs: All part of the NC Transportation Museum’s 49 Days of Gratitude: A Celebration of Thanks, which celebrates the 70th anniversary of North Carolina’s Merci Train boxcar’s arrival in Raleigh on Feb. 8, 1949. The Merci Train was a gift to the people of the United States from the people of France, given in appreciation for the United States’ help to the French during World War II. To learn more, visit www.nctrans.org/Events/49.aspx

• Introduction to Swing dance — headquarters, Feb. 23, 3-4 p.m. This introductory class is free and fun. A professional dance instructor will show you the basics. Please call Abby at 704-216-8248 or email info@rowancountync.gov to reserve your spot.

• “Anchors Aweigh” — East, Feb. 23, 10 a.m. Celebrate the golden age of cinema with the 1945 “Anchors Aweigh” (not rated, 140 min.). For more information about this screening, call 704-216-7840.

• “Casablanca” — South, Feb. 23, 1 p.m. Play it again, Sam. Enjoy the 1942 film (PG, 122 min.). For more information about this screening, call 704-216-7730.

• Gratitude Journaling — Headquarters, Feb. 25, 6-7 p.m. Reduce stress, improve your sleep, increase self esteem, and improve your relationships by cultivating gratitude in your life. Bring a blank notebook to this free event and learn the basics of how to start your own gratitude journal. Call Abby at 704-216-8248 or email info@rowancountync.gov to sign up.

Displays: Headquarters, log cabins by North Hills Christian School; East, Sherlock Holmes by Cathy Woods; South, student art from Corriher-Lipe Middle School art classes.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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