Literacy Goes Beyond Books in Museum and Library’s Innovative New Program

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The Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will begin engaging their smallest patrons in a new way when a sensory literacy program for toddlers debuts in February.

ToddlerTime Tours, a two-part, multi-sensory experience that brings books as well as art to life for children ages 18 to 36 months, will serve as a sequel to the Museum’s nationally recognized Baby Tours. The free public program aims to engage toddlers through visual and textual literacy, dual skills that will be important for these digital natives, many of whom are as proficient with tablet computers as they are with wooden blocks.

“Children today are inundated with images from birth and will probably communicate visually more than any generation before,” said Kathy Danko-McGhee, Ph.D., the Museum’s Emma Leah Bippus director of education and developer of the Baby Tours. “There is a real need for experiences that engage all their senses and encourage them to identify and make sense of color, shape and texture.”

The new program aims to build upon an already-present connection between visuals and storytelling in children’s literature.

“Children read stories through images before they learn the words, and often those illustrations and pictures are the key to them developing an interest in books and language,” said Mary Rava Miller, Toledo-Lucas County Children’s Library manager. “Toddlertime story hours at the Library have successfully introduced children to textual literacy. This is a way to expand upon that experience by introducing children to great works of art in the process.”

Toddlers and their parents will get the chance to experience these librarian- and docent-led tours starting in February, when they can attend one or both portions of the two-stage program. The first week, a story hour is held at the Library’s Main and Maumee branches, themed to connect to a work of art in the Museum’s collection. The second week, the Museum welcomes toddlers to experience a fun, hands-on tour centered around the work, using elements like feathers, bells, blocks and lace to bring it to life. A children’s librarian will also be present to complete the tour with a story.

The first ToddlerTime Tour will feature paintings and stories with a pet theme. The Library portion will be held Feb. 3 at the Maumee Branch and Feb. 6 at the Main Library. Both events begin at 10:30 a.m. The Museum portion will take place at 6 p.m. on Feb. 13. Pre-registration is required and parents can choose to attend one or both programs. Though space is limited, efforts will be made to accommodate all families who wish to participate.

For more information on registration, participating branches and tour dates, call the Museum at 419-255-8000, the Library at 419-259-5200 or visit either of their websites, or

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