Broad Art Museum reading program aims to make children "bookworms"
A "bookworm” is used to describe someone who's obsessed with reading — which makes it a fitting word to describe an event focused on getting children to become fond of literature.
The Broad Art Museum, with the help of the East Lansing Public Library, hosts a monthly "Bookworms at the Broad" program aimed at improving virtual literacy in little kids.
It's held for free from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Alan and Rebecca Ross Education Wing. Kids can read at 10 a.m., visit the museum gallery at 10:30 a.m. and participate in art activities afterward.
Meghan Zanskas, manager of education at the art museum, said visual literacy is important — especially because the world has become more visually-based in the last 10 years.
“Having them be able to not only understand words and letters and stories, but to see that colors and shapes and lines and ideas in artwork are also a way to understand the world,” she said.
Bookworms is for kids who range from ages two to five. Even though some children in that age range aren't in school, Zanskas said they might be home with a parent, and the museum wants to provide a learning opportunity for them.
The activities have a different theme each month, with each relating to something that is real for a young child, according to Zanskas. For example, September was “Friendship," October was “Neighborhoods," November is “Place" and December will be “Home."
“They connect with what we're doing at Family Day for that month," Zanskas said. "Then that way we might be able to keep some of the materials."
Emily Adams, a youth services specialist at the East Lansing Public Library, said she brings books from the library based on each month's theme. She brings them to read to kids because hearing and seeing the words helps them comprehend things — especially if she talks about a certain subject and then lets them voice their own thoughts on it.
“Today one of the books had a possum in it. So I made a possum afterwards. And then a kid, if they made a possum as well, they would go home and tell their caregivers about the possum,” Adams said. “Then they're taking those ideas with them and they're learning about something and then they're going home and talking about it again.”
Adams’ goal is to get more kids out listening to stories.
“It helps give them a base for reading,” Adams said. "The more words you hear, the better readers they're going to be when they start reading.”
Zoology senior Caitie Reza is a gallery guide of the museum. She tries to make the museum's contemporary art more accessible for young kids.
She showed children two exhibitions on Nov. 7 — the first being "Fiction of a Production" by David Lamelas and the other being "Smells of Detroit," a installation by Sissel Tolaas that has small, multicolored sculptures infused with different scents from Detroit.
“Before we did this event, I never used to encourage adults to go walk under and get a new perspective,” Reza said. “When we took the kids there, we had them hold hands in a line and walk under this and see how kind of different the wood looks, they were so excited.”
When Reza worked again, she started to invite adults to walk under the wall even if didn't have any kids.
“I just say, ‘Hey, feel free to walk under it if you want. It's pretty cool actually,’” she said.
So far, Reza has received positive feedback about the event from parents.
“I think the parents really, really like it because it's an opportunity to have their kids engaged with storytelling and have their kids engage with contemporary art together, which is not really something that you see in many other kids' activities,” she said.