(Belcamp, Maryland – April 14, 2014) Opening the Gift, a Harford County Public Library outreach reading program that provides free monthly story time experiences to children in licensed home daycares, recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. The gathering, held at the Bel Air Library, had many of the librarians in attendance that managed the program over the years including Frances Sedney, the librarian that secured the original federal grant to launch the program.
“Many children couldn’t get to the Library because of transportation limitations and because they lived ‘out in the country’. We secured the first van, and even brought a puppet theater that was made for the Library, into the homes for the children’s entertainment,” explained Sedney. “The children loved to hear us tell them stories. The love of books for children is what made all of this happen!” exclaimed Sedney.
The celebration also included comments from Library Director, Mary Hastler, and Opening the Gift librarian Melinda Chase about the importance of early literacy. Each Opening the Gift visit includes stories, puppets, songs and finger plays and as children enjoy the fun of stories and puppet friends, they are learning essential early literacy skills.
To participate in the Opening the Gift program, daycare providers must be licensed, able to set aside 45 minutes each month from September through May for the visit, and have at least four preschool age children in attendance. Interested daycare providers can call the Bel Air branch at (410) 638-3151 and ask for the Children’s Information Desk to reserve a space for the upcoming program year. In 1979, Sharing the Gift, which visits licensed daycare centers, and Opening the Gift combined reached a total of approximately 12,000 children. Today, the two programs reach 25,000 children each year.
Harford County Public Library operates eleven branches located throughout Harford County, Maryland. The library serves 182,000 registered borrowers of all ages and has an annual circulation of over 4.1 million. Harford County Public Library is committed to connecting people with information and promoting the love of reading within the community.