Early education the focus of North Slope's first year in the Imagination Library
Inupiaq lyrics rang through the Tuzzy Library in Barrow on May 4 as Edith Nageak of the North Slope Borough Health Department taught parents and toddlers the baby-cooing and clapping song, "Saa Maa Si Maa."
North Slope Imagination Library volunteers from Anaktuvuk Pass, Wainwright, Point Hope and Barrow came together to celebrate the Imagination program's first year on the North Slope and learn new ways to support early learning.
The meeting opened with a recorded message to the people of Alaska from Dolly Parton, who originated Imagination Library in her hometown of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
"Who would believe that I would have Dolly Parton as one of my heroes?" said one of the attendees. Her simple idea is now enriching the lives of over 650,000 children in three countries including more than 500 on the North Slope.
In addition to sending a free book in the mail to any enrolled child from birth to their 5th birthday, the North Slope Imagination Library and Best Beginnings Alaska seek to encourage everyone to come together to read, sing, play and tell stories to the young children in their villages.
The day was spent examining how baby brains develop during their first months and years and what parents, grandparents and caregivers can do to give young children the best possible start in life.
Talks and power point presentations were interspersed with periods of laughter as infants and toddlers provided live demonstrations of how joyful interaction engaged their attention and busy minds.
The volunteers left with concrete ideas of what they could do in their villages to help spread the word about how to make sure that their youngest residents enter school ready to learn.
The North Slope Imagination Library Gathering was underwritten by ConocoPhillips.
Guest speakers included Barbara Brown of Best Beginnings Alaska, Terrie Chang of the Anchorage Public Library Ready to Read Resource Center, Ilisagvik College instructors Martha Stackhouse and Debby Dahl Edwardson, NSB Health Department staff members Jennifer Johnson and Donna Alred and Friends of Tuzzy Library volunteers Laura Thomas and Sandy Solenberger.