Heather Light's sons are too young to read. But that doesn't mean the 2- and 3-year-old boys can't start learning the primary skills.
"As a teacher, I know that emergent reading begins at home," she said. "Even if they can't read, they need to know how books work. If they're excited about it, they'll want to read once they get to school."
That's why she takes Max, 3, and Luke, 2, to activities at the library, like the one offered Thursday at the Carson City Library.
In place of the traditional storytime, Kathryn Hill led toddlers and their parents through songs, dancing and instrument playing.
She explained that the first things children are exposed to are the sounds of their mother's heartbeat while in the womb.
"We are literally created in an atmosphere of movements and sound," she said while playing the rhythm of a heartbeat on the drum. "It's our birthright."
Carson City's youth services librarian, Amber Sady, said rhyming and singing help children learn basic reading skills.
"It's all part of the brain development," she said. "It's all connected. The music helps stimulate that."
Sady is also working to make the library more accessible to older youths, as well. As part of last year's Literacy for Life initiative, Sady visited all Carson City schools and gave each child a library card.
"They see me now and they recognize me," she said. "They're not afraid to come to the library and to ask me questions."
With their library cards, students also gain access to online tutoring.
"By the end of last year, the usage of our online homework tutors increased fivefold," she said.
This year, she plans to visit every third-grade classroom to demonstrate to students how to use the program and to give them an overview of other services available at the library.
"Once you show them how easy it is and how helpful the tutors are, they're more likely to use it," she said.
She will also read them a story and present them each with a new book.
All incoming kindergartners will also receive a library card.
Joanna Wilson, president of the Carson City School Board, said the library is a good partner with the school district.
Wilson attended the Music Together activity at the library Thursday with her granddaughter, Molly, 2.
"They learn to love reading here," she said. "They learn it can be fun. They can sing and dance and color, and they find out all of that is in books."
Stephanie Jensen said it's a good way to socialize her son Tyson, 15 months, who is an only child so far. But, she said, it also has other benefits.
"It is important to get them exposed to imagination and knowledge," she said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To learn more abut the programs offered at the Carson City Library, go to carsoncitylibrary.org or call (775) 887-2244.