Free events for children in New Westminster, BC

There’s no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to introducing children to storybooks, says children’s author Jane Whittingham, who will be reading to children under three at a Storytime event organized by New Westminster-based Kinder Books.

Are you wondering when is the best time to introduce your baby to the world of the very Hungry Caterpillar or peter the cat? The sooner the better, according to Burnaby-based librarian and children’s author Jane Whittingham.

“It’s never too early. I mean, I brought books to the hospital when my son was born,” she said.

Whittingham added: “It helps build warm feelings about reading the earlier you start, because then they (the kids) associate reading with the people they love. When their mom, dad, grandma or whoever reads with them, they think, ‘Okay, picture book means love – it means the people I love read with me.

It doesn’t matter that they don’t get the words yet, “they just build the sense that I feel happy and safe,” she said.

Whittingham will be reading from a mix of books – hers and those of other authors – in four separate storytime sessions at Kinder Books starting September 26. “In the first week we will read moving animals and wiggles!” she said.

moving animals is the first of four books Whittingham has published this year alone; She has released three more between 2017 and 2021.

“There will be songs and rhymes; we will dance something There will be books, but more,” she said.

Which books are best for toddlers?

Whittingham has worked as a children’s book librarian for the past eight years, using ‘trial and error’ to evaluate which books are suitable for young children.

“With the very young boys, you should have few texts and lots of repetition, because that helps to consolidate vocabulary. Picture books that rhyme are great because they have a great rhythm that really helps kids engage with them.”

Your absolute favorites for reading and circle times are Pete the Cat: I love my white shoes by Eric Litwin; Bark, George by Jules Feiffer; Little owl lost by Chris Haughton; Don’t push the button by Bill Cotter; and I will paint no more by Karen Beaumont.

Lots of singing and picture-rich books, she said, seem to help hold a toddler’s attention. But even if a book meets all of these criteria, a child may not seem interested.

“And that’s fair,” Whittingham said.

“Sometimes parents are worried. They say, ‘Oh, my kid is so active. You will not sit still while I read.’ That is normal. Children have a lot of energy.”

So what do you do when your little guy crawls away?

“Just stop it,” Whittingham said. “You can always pick it up another time. Or find something they’re really interested in – like my son is really interested in trains. So any book that has trains in it, he’ll want to read it.”

Even though it seems like the kids aren’t paying attention to the words, “they’re like little sponges,” she said.

“Even if it doesn’t seem like they’re listening, they are,” she said.

Storytelling sessions are scheduled Mondays – September 26, October 17, November 14 and December 12 – at 9:30 am at 810 Quayside Dr., on the top floor of the Vancouver Circus School. All of the books Whittingham will read from can be purchased from Kinder Books or borrowed from the New West Public Library.

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