Young kids, most of them preschool or kindergarten age, color paper plates to make a hat similar to what the Man in the Yellow Hat wears in “Curious George.” The craft was part of the PBS’s Share a Story program brought to Liberal Memorial Library on Wednesday. L&T photos/Victoria Calderon
By VICTORIA CALDERON
• Leader & Times
The Smoky Hills Public Television, a division of the national Public Broadcasting Service, visited the library Wednesday afternoon.
The Education Department at PBS has many educational programs they bring to kids and parents across the nation to promote early literacy skills. The Director of Education at Smoky Hill, Leona Breeden, does story time for summer reading programs across Western Kansas.
The program Breeden brought to Liberal Memorial Library is called the Share a Story program, which is catered towards preschool age kids.
“The Share a Story program was designed to help parents and caregivers, along with kids, understand the three types of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic (hands-on),” Breeden explained.
The programs usually include references to PBS shows. At the beginning of her presentation, Breeden brought out stuffed toys representing various characters from the shows, and the kids in the audience could identify them all.
Next, Breeden showed the group an episode of Curious George, which accounted for the visual learning aspect of the program. She picked a show she knew appealed to a wide age range, because although the program is catered to toddlers and preschoolers, older kids and adults were also present.
After that, Breeden had the kids make a hat like the Man in the Yellow Hat out of a paper plate and crayons. While they colored their hats, which covered kinesthetic learning, she read them the book “Caps for Sale” for auditory learning.
The three types of learning all tied into a common theme: hats and monkeys.
“What we try to do is use a TV show as a starting point,” Breeden said. “For instance, the Curious George we just watched. Then we did a craft along those same lines, we read books on that same theme, and we encourage parents to then play games with the kids that involve whatever topic the Share might have been. That’s the general purpose of Share a Story, to get the parents involved with the kids.”
At the end of the presentation, every child in attendance received licorice, a bookmark and a free book. Since the Education Department focuses on literacy in young kids, one of their goals is to give children access to books.
“We also know that getting books in the kids’ hands that they can keep at home is extremely important to create readers,” Breeden said.
Breeden travels to share the program at any library in the area that Smoky Hills has jurisdiction over; all they have to do is request her. Currently, Smoky Hills receives grants for the program, so the libraries do not even have to pay for her to come out.
“Funding is always subject to change, but we can offer this free right now,” Breeden said. “We do get grant support, and the books that I gave out today came from a grant from the Western Kansas Community Foundation. Those community grants are so important to us. We like to offer it for free, because libraries are on a tight budget too.”
Breeden covers a lot of ground for her job year round. This week, she is traveling from Cimarron to Elkhart. This year, she has visited libraries in Goodland, Ellsworth, Montezuma, Tribune, Sublette and much more.
“I was in Liberal probably five years ago and now I’m back,” Breeden said. “I hope I come back again and again and again.”
The Smoky Hills station is based out of Bunker Hill in Northwest Kansas. The area they cover encompasses everywhere in Kansas west of Salina, consisting of 52 counties.
Even though she does her Share a Story program for summer reading and other year-round library events, she also visits schools to give other types of presentations.
“I have just recently started doing some anti-bullying (presentations),” Breeden noted. “The TV show ‘Arthur’ has a really good program about bullying, so I’ve been using that in schools.”
The library’s Children’s Librarian, Casandra Norin, thought the Share a Story program was great.
“I think the kids enjoyed themselves, which is the main point of summer reading,” she said. “It was also a way for kids to be social, which they should be doing in summer instead of just staying home and watching TV.”
Betheny Thompson, a staff member who assists with summer reading, added that the program was beneficial “especially since it is set for different ages. A lot of our crafts are for bigger kids while little ones just get to color, so it’s fun to have something for the littler kids.”
Thompson said the program fit in nicely with the summer reading program theme, Science and Arts.
“Television and broadcasting is considered an art,” Thompson said. “So we tried to tie in more of a modern form of art into our summer reading program.”
Breeden concluded, “The main goal of the entire education department at the PBS station is to get kids ready for school. We know that those early literacy skills are extremely important. Going out and giving books to kids... that’s my favorite part of the whole job.”