In October 1997, Gloria Jean Fenn, MS, Speech Pathologist for the Sooner Start Program of the Cleveland County Health Department, booked a meeting room at the Norman Public Library for her group of parents with young children. When the librarian asked her the name of the program, Gloria Jean thought, We’re going to practice rhythm, and the group is full of babies, so she responded, “Rhythm Babies.” The Rhythm Babies program was born. It has been growing and developing throughout Cleveland County and the Pioneer Library System ever since.
“Music is a natural method to encourage articulation,” Gloria Jean says. “The children have fun making sounds, and this encourages them to use their tongues and mouths.” Besides encouraging speech and language development, the program provides social interaction in a natural setting. “This social interaction is significant in a child’s life,” she continued. “It involves sharing and listening with and to the other children.”
The musical activities involve body movement, the use of musical instruments, scarves, imaginative play, and reading. Beverly Theige, Children’s Assistant at the Norman Public Library, presents Rhythm Babies for babies and toddlers and a program for older children aged 3 to 7 called Library Music Connection every Friday morning now that Gloria Jean has retired. However, that welcoming volunteer assisting Ms. Beverly most Fridays is Ms. Gloria Jean.
“The most important thing you can do for your child is to read with him or her every day. Make it interactive. Change the inflection in your voice. Ask questions,” says Gloria Jean. “Parents who carefully articulate words when they sing to their children, develop better spellers and better readers.”
She added, “Make reading to your little one a snuggle time. Read a book. Sing a song. Trust your own judgment about what you’re doing with your children. Surround them with books. That’s why I thought the library was the right place for this adventure.” Be sure to check the PLS Events Calendar on our website
for the days and times of story times and special music programs in your hometown library.
- Valerie Kimble, PLS Center for Children's Services