Marble Falls Public Library children’s librarian Misty Smith settled onto the floor. A group of kids huddled close as she picked up the first book, a simple, brightly illustrated picture book about Thanksgiving.
“Since it’s Thanksgiving, I’m going with that as the theme,” Smith said prior to the Thursday morning Story Time gathering. “I try to do that if there’s a holiday or something like that — pick a book or two that goes with it.”
As the kids gathered around Smith, she began to read, stopping occasionally to ask the youngsters about the story, a character, or the illustrations.
Picture books seem simple, but Smith and others in education will attest to their importance in a child’s early development. Picture books even have their own month: November.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents start reading to their children early to encourage a lifetime of literacy.
“I’ve heard some parents will read to their kids while they’re still in the womb,” Smith said.
And picture books are a good place to start.
“They’re visual, and visual is really important for younger kids,” Smith said. “They enjoy the pictures, and it’s something they can see and understand.”
Despite the simplicity of picture books, the genre can teach children about a variety of complex topics.
And plus, “it’s just fun,” Smith said. “And you should never forget how important that is.”
When looking for a picture book, it’s often best to let the child lead the way to find something that interests them, Smith said.
Smith often gets down on the children’s level during Story Time to read to them. She’ll pause and ask questions as she goes along, even letting the children make comments and observations.
After the reading, Smith has a craft project for the kids, something that could work at home as well.
“It doesn’t have to be anything big or fancy. It could be just coloring; kids love to color,” Smith said. “I usually just gather some craft supplies around the library and bring them out for the kids. Just keep it fun.”
Highland Lakes libraries offer a wide selection of picture books as well as regular story times. Here are some:
• Marble Falls Public Library, 101 Main St. — Preschool Story Time on most Thursdays from 10:30-11 a.m.; Mother Goose and Friends on most Fridays from 10-11 a.m. Call 830-693-3023.
• Joanne Cole Mitte Memorial Library, 170 N. Gabriel St. in Bertram — Story Time on Thursdays from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Call 512-355-2113.
• Herman Brown Free Library, 100 E. Washington St. in Burnet — Story Time most Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. Call 512-715-5228.
• Llano County Library, 102 E. Haynie St. in Llano — Story Time most Thursdays at 10 a.m. Call 325-247-5248.
• Kingsland Branch Library, 125 W. Polk St. — Toddler Connection on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.; After School Connection on Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m.; Saturday Story Time at 10:30 a.m. Call 325-388-3170.
• Spicewood Community Library, 1011 Spur 191 — Story Time on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Call 830-693-7892.
Schedules are subject to change. Contact your library for more information.