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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Safford library story time helps instill love of learning in girl

When Chandler Aaron was 9 months old, her mom went back to work as a school teacher. Luckily for Chandler, her grandma Barbara Matthews became her full-time caregiver while mom was teaching.

Having raised three daughters, Matthews was thrilled to have this opportunity, but also a little overwhelmed at the prospect of “starting over” with a new little one.

Her biggest concern was filling Chandler’s time with quality interactions.

Having a love of reading herself, Matthews read stories to Chandler from the time she was born, but as the young girl grew a little older, a visit to the local library was a natural choice for an outing.

Upon arriving at the Safford Public Library, they found not only a large selection of children’s books, but so much more. The Safford Library hosts daily programs, such as Baby Story Time, Toddler Story Time and Preschool Story Time. These programs are made possible by funding from the First Things First Graham/Greenlee Regional Partnership Council. The council members understand the importance of early literacy and the need to provide a variety of literature options for families. They also want to encourage families to become involved with programming at their local libraries and continue the love of books outside of the home.

Now that Chandler is 3, she’s moved through the different levels of story times and loves to participate in the stories and songs at Preschool Story Time. Her favorite part is the craft activity at the end.

She also loves to play with the other children and the toys in the early childhood room. She typically goes straight to the dress up area to choose an appropriate costume for the day, Matthews said. Sometimes she is a princess, a dancer, doctor or nurse.

“One of the best parts of playing at the library has been the socializing,” said Matthews, who lovingly refers to her granddaughter as a “lonely only” because she doesn’t have siblings or cousins to play with. Instead, Chandler has found friends she sees regularly during story time.

“While participating in story time, she has learned to follow directions, take turns, share and interact with other children in a safe environment,” Matthews said.

Chandler will be starting preschool in the fall, and her mom and grandma are confident that the skills she has learned at the library have set her firmly on the path to a lifelong love of learning.

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