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Ana Margarida Ramos IFLA Journal 2012 38: 78 DOI: 10.1177/0340035211435396 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ifl.sagepub.com/content/38/1/78

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but also the prior construction of concrete representations about the usefulness of reading. libraries for infants. The aim is for external Corresponding author: Ana Margarida Ramos. children’s libraries. These perceptions are largely determined by their first book experiences.sagepub. well-being and affection and constitute routines which in turn become habits. which demands. some of which have been implemented for decades in pioneering countries and include the Bookstart project in the UK (1992).com Learning to read before you walk: Portuguese libraries for babies and toddlers Ana Margarida Ramos University of Aveiro Abstract The aim of this paper is to present and analyse some examples of public libraries which have been especially designed for babies and toddlers in Portugal. their families and care givers. plays a crucial role in making literature more appealing to the child. Tel. an awareness of reading should be started as early as possible within the family. Some projects implemented in these areas.sagepub.1177/0340035211435396 ifla. þ351 919183816 Email: anamargarida@ua.com by guest on November 12. termed bebetecas in Portuguese. the library becomes a privileged space and vehicle to promote good reading practices from a very young age.nav DOI: 10. family and school.pt Downloaded from ifl. as well as creating dynamic reading habits at an early age. highlighting the role the promotion of reading from a very young age plays in the reader’s development. as well as awakening public and political awareness to early promotion of reading practices. and providing them with meaningful experiences about the use of literature in a wide range of contexts. even if not exclusively literary material. In this way. effort and attention. among other things. Taking family and school as two important contexts for the development of the readers. These measures. which are crucial in the construction of the readers’ first perceptions of reading. and where books can act as the backdrop for interaction between young children. in that the positive ones stimulate reading whereas the negative experiences have a tendency to put up barriers between the readers and books. It is also important that the first reading experiences within the family unit be associated with pleasure. As a result. particularly those which target the family as an audience. stem from the widespread consensus about the individual and social relevance of reading and the possibilities it provides individuals with.uk/journalsPermissions. Research has shown that learning to read starts well before its formal introduction at school and is a process of lifelong learning. 2013 . Portugal Introduction Practices to promote reading in pre-readers – including very young readers from birth up to the age of 6 – are now established in a number of countries and incorporate official politics and programmes. 3810–193 Aveiro. and includes not only a wide range of rich vocabulary and the knowledge of complex structures. early contact with diverse written material. This strengthens family ties and promotes healthier and more balanced child development. Keywords public libraries. University of Aveiro Research Centre for Child Studies (CIEC-University of Minho). This is the case in the development of oral discourse. pre-readers.I F LA Article International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions 38(1) 78–85 ª The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub. create an increased awareness of the role of the library in the dissemination of children’s books. The development of reading occurs mainly in two contexts. Portugal. but which in some cases are also intended for day care centres and nurseries. Reading is the result of a highly motivating learning process and consists of steady progress.co.

with a special emphasis on linguistics and narration as well as social and artistic areas. The narrative structure for example. and the role of the family in establishing a relationship of proximity and personal identification with books.sagepub. playing games and reinforcement of parental affection) to become internalized (reading for pleasure). thus establishing significant relationships between oral and written discourse. the educator or from autonomous learning. favours the acquisition of notions of temporal order and cause and effect. Parents and libraries Parents should act as role models and the presence of books and reading habits should be natural within the household and associated to the family gathering around books to create moments of pleasure and affection. among many others. the relationship established between language development and organized narrative thinking is very relevant. the aim is to bring together a ludic dimension associated with entertainment. there are various relevant competences which are a focus for more or less specific ‘work’ in this context. but also the publication of a range of support materials. which began in 2005. among others. the establishment of bebetecas in Portugal came into being through the creation of specific sections within public libraries. including babies and toddlers. The library catalogues have also been completed and the offer in terms of activities has become more diverse. supports the main conclusions of this essay in relation to the development of reading competences. Generally speaking. Gome ´ z del Manzano (1986). Statistics report that there were only 89 public libraries in Portugal in 1960. Although there is no formal data on this aspect after that date. Public libraries have always played a crucial role in the development of reading and have as their mission the establishment of specific areas and contexts for various target audiences. Correspondingly. 2013 . Following the IFLA Guidelines for Library Services to Babies and Toddlers (IFLA. Even more generally. as against 1018 in 2003. at a very good pace.Ramos: Learning to read before you walk: Portuguese libraries for babies and toddlers 79 reading stimuli (attention from adults. takes into account a large number of activities. This initiative. the number of libraries is still growing nowadays. namely the children’s sections. As a result.com by guest on November 12. contributing to the development of autonomous readers. In the case of very young children. By carrying out activities which involve handling books and developing oral discourse. thus creating a connection between families and books. this becomes even with more apparent with the development of bebetecas. of many libraries in almost every city. it is important to mention a relevant Portuguese reading ´ um livro (My toy is a book) project O meu brinquedo e developed in partnership with the Association of Portuguese Language Teachers and the Association of Nursery School Teachers. The discovery of symbolic language values and the aesthetic features which stem from language use within a literary context are other assets associated with these experiences. Besides the sheer pleasure of listening to a story. in particular parents. or the Downloaded from ifl. Poslaniec (2004 and 2006) and Rigolet (1997 and 2009). Section of Libraries Serving the General Public 2007). together with various public and private institutions whose aim is to increase society’s awareness of the promotion of books and reading. we have been witnessing the emergence of a strong public library network all over the country. affection and socialization. specialized sections in libraries whose aim is to create an increased awareness of the importance of early promotion reading habits in families. establishing relationships between them and their surroundings or clarifying abstract concepts through specific examples. In this way. this brief presentation about the situation in Portugal is supported by relevant studies from different areas. Pressley 1999). with special prominence given to Bamberger (1986). In cognitive terms. This is the case with the brochure available ˆ ler ao meu bebe ´? (Why read to online called Porque my baby?)1. including the training of parents and nursery school teachers. Generating daily routines which revolve around books and reading from birth can be complemented with the support of the librarian. highlighting the importance of emerging behaviour (Sulby and Teale1991. particularly reading aloud to the child since birth. Many narratives for early childhood enable the reproduction of familiar scenarios. doing so on a repetitive basis has a positive effect on the language development of children and provides relevant experiences about language structures and the narratives themselves. as a consequence of a governmental rule which in April 1986 established a national reading policy determining an increasing role and functions for Portuguese public libraries. through the creation and recreation. Spiegel (2001). Portuguese Bebetecas The Portuguese public libraries service has been growing rapidly in the past two decades. the number of readers also increased eight times between 1960 and 2003. particularly when it comes to choosing the most appropriate books or obtaining information about how best to exploit the materials available. This scheme.

the opening of Bebetecas as well as the activities organized there have become widespread in Portugal. In the case of some projects which have had external sponsorship. after some pioneering examples. In Odivelas.sagepub. Downloaded from ifl. games (such as puzzles. Examples include Pata (One for Me. ludic activities in which contact with books is involved. meet regularly in the Bebeteca. Best reading practices In this section we look at some concrete examples of best practices developed in Portugal in this area. advice and tips on how to promote reading and books in the family and at home and short thematic catalogues. One for You). whose objective is to increase parents’ awareness of the importance of language development through playing with books and oral literature (chants. What they all have in common besides the establishment of sections and specific catalogues is that these projects. but more importantly to establish and strengthen long lasting bonds among children. and are notable in the systematization of both the practical and theoretical activities which are organized at the Bebetecas. Bebetecas stand out particularly in the way they organize numerous activities with relatively limited space and scarce catalogues. workshops for parents and ongoing clubs and projects. The selection process is random and took into account the diversity of proposals as well the extent to which these activities are distributed throughout continental Portugal. it is commendable that in recent years. In some cases. leafing through books.80 IFLA Journal 38(1) reorganization of existing areas which underwent (re)decoration. building blocks and other construction games). such as the Public Library in Beja. This is the case of Rodas de Colo (Lullaby Circles). With considerable experience in the early promotion of reading habits and of parental involvement in the development of reading skills. This study gave rise to a Masters in Library Studies directed by Susana ´ vora University and its findings can be Silvestre in E found in various publications2. which are accessed more easily because they are almost at floor levels. given by professionals. the libraries ‘publish’ and distribute short homemade publications which include reading suggestions (for parents and for babies and toddlers). in an attempt to meet the demands of parents and families. however. 2013 . The groups. which tells stories to a group of parents and their children. revolve around regular activities based on specifically chosen themes and books. a laboratory was opened which studies the results of early reading and is part of the Gulbenkian – Casa da Leitura (Gulbenkian – Reading Home) project. rhymes and other types of poems) aimed at parents and children between the ´rias de Colo e ages of 18 and 36 months. The choice of alternative bookshelves. chants. generally include specific storytelling time (for babies and toddlers). Subsequently. naming objects in them. Whenever possible. targeted at mothers and babies up ´ti Pata ´ta to one year of age. The use of specific and/or adapted furniture is also frequent and Bebetecas are very often enhanced with support material. making the analysis and the recognition of the project as an example of best practice more independent. it is possible to access more materials which have been specifically created for use in the Bebeteca. who are aged between 3 and 5 years. as is the case with educational toys. namely by the prestigious Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. it promotes the sharing of books between adults and children between the ages of 9 months and 3 years. uma voz para contar (Two arms for rocking. which are increasingly more popular.com by guest on November 12. which put the imagination and creativity of the librarians and educators of the libraries to the test. Some projects have had external sponsorship. playing with words through the listening and repetition of rhymes. and Histo Embalo (Lullaby Storytime). parents and books. a project which focuses on enhancing the communication between mother and baby. one voice for storytelling). many other examples which are worthy of mention were not included. the services on offer. such as reading passports (or reading identity cards) and reading ledgers for example. puppet stages. string puppets or musical instruments. Cantinho do Embalo (Lullaby Corner) at the Afonso Lopes Vieira Public Library in Leiria or Nascido para ler (Born to read) at the Public Library in Santa Maria da Feira. This is the case with the projects (A)Brac ¸ os com a leitura (Embracing reading) at the Public Library in Chamusca. cases which had external sponsorship and evaluation were chosen. The aim is to stimulate language development and children’s levels of attention and concentration. where different activities which promote reading are organized. Telling and listening to stories. the painting of the walls and the use of throw cushions and other objects which create comfort are strategies which are common in all existing Bebetecas. Called Dois brac ¸ os para embalar. the Public Library in Beja has offered over the last few years various activities in the Bebeteca. which cannot have more than 10 babies and toddlers. Naturally. tongue twisters and hand clapping games are some of the most popular activities.

language development and motor coordination practice are organized. which take into account the competences of the young readers. Chamusca Bebeteca activities. In addition to story time. associating that contact with well-being Downloaded from ifl.sagepub. but are generally monthly gatherings which share the desire to promote regular contact with books. 2013 . Other examples chosen include weekly activities ´lhavo on which take place at the Public Library in I Saturdays. activities which provide interaction among the children. the libraries have created sections for babies and toddlers which are not limited to general use by the library goers but have also organized activities. Figure 2.com by guest on November 12. thus creating routines and habits in both children and parents. Chamusca Bebeteca. when it is easier for families to attend. These activities vary in terms of frequency. As a general rule.Ramos: Learning to read before you walk: Portuguese libraries for babies and toddlers 81 Figure 1.

Ilhavo Bebeteca activities. Figure 4. Ilhavo Bebeteca.com by guest on November 12.sagepub. 2013 . Downloaded from ifl.82 IFLA Journal 38(1) Figure 3.

2013 . projects which are relatively simple to implement and economically feasible in the current economic climate. and to promote books and other media for children. since there are many translations. They are in essence. shows an awareness of the individual and social importance of reading and the need to promote it from a very early age within the family. as stated in the IFLA Guidelines. in particular the development of education and the promotion of reading. the opening of Bebetecas and the activities which are organized there enable the enhancement of library catalogues and collections. some of works by classic writers. only in the 1990s did the genre attract some local attention with Manuela Bacelar. there has been widespread interest. Despite the fact that since the 1970s. a renowned illustrator in Portugal. Bruno Munari. Downloaded from ifl.Ramos: Learning to read before you walk: Portuguese libraries for babies and toddlers 83 and pleasure and demystifying many preconceived ideas about the relationship between the child on the one hand and books and reading on the other. Iela Mari and Tomi Ungerer. Section of Public Libraries 2001: 26). As regards the board book – or even the reduced size book. In the last 10 years however. the demands are greater. Leo Lionni. Seixal. have now become commonplace. which includes cloth. pop-up and toy books. with the need for specific staff training and the importance of keeping group size small so that more personalized attention can be given to the children and their parents. The more or less implicit awareness that early reading practices are fundamental for the formal development of reading itself results from the work carried out by librarians. in relation to the service provided by public libraries and the guidelines set out by IFLA. it is clearly stated that these institutions ‘‘have a special responsibility to support the process of learning to read. In fact. particularly as a result of the sudden international increase in the genre. thus diversifying the publications on offer to this target audience. both in terms of toy books and literary works. the only collection to highlight is the one by Andre ´ Letria. The same occurs in relation to the range of diversity in the strategies and activities organized in libraries. Besides Bebeteca catalogues In terms of the creation of adequate catalogues for this group of readers.sagepub. contemporary foreign literature by David McKee. Jutta Bauer. who provide parents with ongoing training. highlighting in point four the importance of ‘‘stimulating the imagination and creativity of children and young people’’ (idem). This is the case with the Bebetecas in Vila Nova ˜ o. The fact that these activities. which has resulted in the opening or renovation of many of these sections. The library must provide special events for children. In practical terms. such as storytelling and activities related to the library’s services and resources. who should continue stimulating long term reading experiences at home. as is the case with works from the publishing company Planeta Tangerina. Arouca. drawing the attention of publishers and writers alike. but also picture. sponge. Eric Carle. namely through the use of toy books for example. as with other similar ones. From a human resources perspective. It is possible to bring together the translations of classic works by such names as Maurice Sendak. The projects presented here. such as Maria Keil or Leonor Prac ¸ a. etc). the first missions of public libraries highlight the importance of this target audience. as opposed to a lack of original Portuguese publications for prereaders.com by guest on November 12. This publishing genre has been responsible for the most salient development in recent years in the area of Portuguese children’s literature. Children should be encouraged to use the library from an early age as this will make them more likely to remain users in future years’’ (IFLA. This is particularly evident in the publications created by Isabel Minho ´ s Martins in partnership with the illustrators Bernardo Carvalho and Madalena Matoso. which were sporadic only a decade ago. which clearly attract new publics. in Portugal there is a clear imbalance of publications. In Portugal. the picture book has become an object of interest to some prominent writers. stating that the library’s responsibilities include ‘‘creating and strengthening reading habits in children from an early age’’ (p. the clear shift in official discourses and practices may be due to the work carried out by the network of public libraries and the network of school libraries in recent years. particularly in relation to the way they involve the families in the process of training readers from an early age. shedding light on a set of highly significant acclaimed works and writers. bath. provide a number of positive outcomes. Anthony Browne and Lucy Cousins and Portuguese works which have seen some international acclaim. interactive (lift-the-flap or pull-the-tag. Conclusions ´In response to the goals set by the Objetivos do Mile nio (Millennium Development Goals). Pac de Famalica ¸ os de Ferreira and many others. board and pop-up books. 88). since they require comparatively low investment in terms of materials. reduced space (with some simple transformations to decoration and layout) and a fairly limited need for books.

where and how to read to children. Findings can be consulted in documents on the development and evaluation of a year’s worth of activities. such as the creation of a national database of Bebetecas and projects implemented in Portugal.uk 6. Can be consulted at www. looking at books and images. to ethnic groups or those who are culturally marginalized and to immigrants. The Hague. As has already been mentioned. (IFLA Professional Report 100) 23p. the Portuguese projects need a common conceptual framework and appropriate theoretical and methodological support stemming from official policies to clearly and unequivocally promote reading in order to guarantee unity and sustainability and enable its development.html References ´bito de leitura. (‘The first contact with reading.ala.es/activos/ texto/wfun_pdf_0171-rOQWM8NwNyW4btJ7. among others) as well as clear guidelines saying when. ˜ o Paulo: A Sa Gome ´ z del Manzano M (1986) A crianc ¸ a e a leitura. picture books and fairy and folk tales. simple short stories. bringing books closer to the reader but it was the increase in the dynamics of these library sections.pt/documentos/guia-texto. Bebetecas are increasingly versatile. Mu ¨ nchen: Saur.ifla. Notes 1. Section of Public Libraries (2001) The Public library service: the IFLA/UNESCO Guidelines for Development: Prepared by a working group of the section of Public Libraries chaired by Philip Gill.84 IFLA Journal 38(1) increasing libraries’ target audience to babies and toddlers. reading guidelines and reading tips and advice. [available at http:// archive.178/casadaleitura/portalbeta/bo/documentos/lab_ 2%20bracos%20p%20embalar_a_C.org/ala/alsc/alscresources/ borntoread 7. which had visible effects on the profile of the library members and their awareness of and training within the library itself. they are places (and moments) where reading takes place and positive experiences are shared among the children and their families. 2013 . Leer sin saber leer. with the library becoming a meeting place and a constant source of interest.sagepub. particularly if the surroundings are simultaneously ludic and pleasurable is essential when the objective is to promote reading with very young age groups. Although they are slightly fragmented and isolated.com by guest on November 12. These materials.it/aib/npl/npl. resorting to images and photographs3 and generally contain suggestions on the books which are most appropriate for babies. 23. Can be consulted at http://195. Examples of national programmes in other countries which have the abovementioned features and have had a strong impact include Bookstart5 (The United Kingdom).bookstart. Como fazer da crianc ¸ a um leitor.38. Can be consulted at www. There are some important steps which need to be taken.org/VII/d3/pub/Profrep100. 23. These play an important role in the initial phase. This was the case in Spain. the qualitative jump which took place in Portugal in the last decade is more related to the generalization of practices than the creation of infrastructures. Descripcio Downloaded from ifl.pdf 3. IFLA Headquarters. Available at http://195. Can be consulted at www. body movement. through the effort and determination of the library staff.aib. and the analysis and publication of the evaluation of these practices so that conclusions can be drawn for the future. pop-up books. Bamberger R (1986) Como incentivar o ha ´ tica.23. Italy). especially with regard to graphic design. Porto: Porto Editora. (IFLA Publications 97) ISBN 3-59821827-3.38. 116p. also open to disabled children. book selection.co. or those with special educational needs. the handling of books and objects. play an essential role in enhancing awareness and increasing family training. They are simple and appealing. Reading without knowing how to’) published by the Germa ´ n Sa ´ nchez Ruipe ´ rez Foundation. 2007. Leer sin saber leer. Born to read6 (USA) and Nati per leggere7 (Born to read. 2008. In the case of Bebetecas. and family literacy and socialization is promoted. with the publication of a book4 called Primeros contactos con la lectura. listing examples of activities which are easy to carry out.pdf] IFLA. Can be consulted at http://www. IFLA. both by its reach and by the enhancement and expansion of the activities which are organized. The favouring of a sensory experience with books and reading through storytelling and song. the production of supplementary material for the activities for parents.sapo. in particular how to create stimulating reading routines and practices at home and within the family are fundamental in the library due to impact they are likely to have in the future.178/casadaleitura/portalbeta/bo/documentos/Odive las_avalia. Linuesa MC and Ramı ´rez Orellana E (2008) Primeros con´n y tactos con la lectura.pdf 5.pdf and http://195.38. and are often the door through which the children and their parents enter the world of reading. which carries out an exhaustive description of the evaluation of reading promotion activities for children from birth up to the age of 6.178/casadaleitura/ portalbeta/bo/documentos/tem_ler_para_crescer_a. http://omb. which can be homemade or of a more professional nature. drawn up in February.fundaciongsr.no. toddlers and young children (for example nursery rhymes. Section of Libraries Serving the General Public (2007) Guidelines for Library Services to Babies and Toddlers.pdf 2.pdf 4.

Tel. Da Estimulac ¸a ˜o Precoce da Linguagem Escrita.89–102. Kamil. Sulby E and Teale W (1991) Emergent literacy. ´ aux parents. About the author Ana Margarida Ramos (PhD) is a Professor of Literature and Children’s Literature at Aveiro University. Barcelona: Paido ´ s. 2. Porto: Porto Editora.Ramos: Learning to read before you walk: Portuguese libraries for babies and toddlers ´n del trabajo con nin evaluacio ˜os y nin ˜as de 0 a 6 an ˜os. In R. Portugal. Gulbenkian – Casa da Leitura (www. Porto: Tropelias & Companhia (2010). Porto Alegre: Artmed. She is a member and participant of the following projects and associations: Portuguese Section of IBBY.) Incentivando o amor pela leitura. Portugal. 3810–193 Aveiro. and a Member of the Centre for Child Studies (University of Minho).D. pp. Literaturas infantis e juvenis do marco ibe ´ rico (LIJMI). Como formar leitores activos e envolvidos.com by guest on November 12. M. 727–758. Email: anamargarida@ua. Pearson (eds.pt Downloaded from ifl.org). Rigolet SA (1997) Leitura do Mundo – Leitura de Livros.) 85 Handbook of reading research. She has published several papers in international journals ˜ es sobre and two books: Livros de Palmo e Meio – Reflexo Literatura para a infa ˆ ncia. P. Poslaniec C (2004). Lisboa: Caminho (2007) and Lit˜ o: leituras em dia eratura para a Infa ˆ ncia e Ilustrac ¸a ´ logo. pp. Barr. New York: Longman. ´mo ensen Pressley M (1999) Co ˜ar a leer.fundaciongsr. Mosenthal and P. Le plaisir de lire explique Paris: Retz. Cramer and Marrietta Castle (Coord. Salamanca: Fundacio ´ n Germa ´ n Sa ´ nchez Ruipe ´ rez de Salamanca [available at http://www. Universidade de Aveiro. Contact: Departamento de Lı ´nguas e Culturas. Porto: Porto Editora.L.sagepub. 2013 . Spiegel DL (2001) Um retrato dos pais dos leitores bem sucedidos. Porto: ASA. þ351 919183816. ´rias com as Rigolet SA (2009) Ler livros e contar histo crianc ¸ as. In Eugene H. pdf].es/ activos/texto/wfun_pdf_0171-rOQWM8NwNyW4btJ7.B. Poslaniec C (2006) Incentivar o prazer de ler.casadaleitura.