Your Community: Meet the 6 by 6 staff

In case you haven’t heard, Johnson County Library is celebrating 10 years of 6 by 6, Ready to Read, its award-winning early literacy program, with a series of special programs and activities. The key to this long-term success is the enthusiastic team of Youth Services librarians that sustains the program. This team of librarians make each experience extra special. Their efforts are seen in Storytimes, outreach visits, video podcasts and publications that are informative and engaging. Now let’s get to know them a little better!

Bradley Debrick: Early Literacy Coordinating Librarian
I have been with Johnson County Library nearly 20 years, in varied roles including Adult Services and Youth Librarian. I have a Master of Arts in Library Science with concentrations in youth services and storytelling.

One of the most basic things a library can do to support and encourage early literacy is to be available to families. We help them navigate our collection of children’s books and match the right book with the right kid. At a deeper level, we like to show parents and caregivers how to use children’s books to develop the six pre-reading skills their kids need before they begin kindergarten.

This work has shown me that a kid’s observational skills can be top notch. It happens frequently that a young person will point out something I’ve never noticed in a book I’ve read aloud dozens of times.

Storytimes and early literacy activity spaces will continue to be important. In 2018, our Library provided 1,411 in-library and outreach Storytimes for 40,000 kids/caregivers. Our activities are chosen specifically to support one or more of our 6 by 6 pre-reading skills. The spaces are open when the Library is open and individual activities change every few months. Non-storytime programs for preschoolers, such as baby yoga, dance, sensory experiences and STEAM activities, are increasing in number.

Importantly, we are strengthening partnerships with other child-serving agencies to reach families who don’t currently visit our libraries.

Dorian Assenmacher
My 18 years with the Library have mostly been in Youth Services. I studied Business Administration, Marketing and Library Science.

The Library’s role is to model practices for parents and caregivers who are with their children every day. We have an extraordinary opportunity to help parents learn how to help their children build early literacy skills and to empower those parents to enhance learning at home.

Grace Bentley
Kids are unexpectedly open about everything, especially their feelings! If you’re wearing a shirt they don’t like, they’ll tell you it’s horrible. If they like you they might smother you in hugs and ask if they can come home with you. They bring that same intensity to books and reading. Introducing kids to lots of new books and topics is fun, and it’s important to let them read and re-read their favorites, too. They’re getting something out of it each time they read it.

Christi Haines
I’ve been a Youth Services Librarian here for 22 years. I got my Master of Arts in Library Science at the University of Missouri.

To encourage early literacy, the Library provides programs for children to have fun with reading, and books and opportunities for parents to learn about how they can help their children be ready to succeed with reading in school. It is amazing how early on, babies can become engaged with someone reading a book out loud to them. The Library continues its dedication to helping the youngest in our population learn to love reading.

Beth Markowitz
I have been with the Library for 23 years. I have a teaching degree and taught elementary school for 8 years.

The Library is full of people who welcome families and truly love children’s books. That’s all it takes to encourage early literacy. I thoroughly enjoy helping children and witnessing their excitement upon finding books they like!

Sarah Mathews
I’ve worked at the Library for almost five years. I’ve always wanted to work in libraries. After earning my bachelor’s at KU I went straight to library school at the University of Illinois.

I think the future of early literacy programs holds more connections: connecting with people in the community; with community partners; connecting people with other people. As a mother, I love attending Storytime to connect with other moms.

Celebrate 6 by 6 at a Johnson County Library Storytime or on social media by following #6by6. If you would like to know more and missed the Shawnee Mission Post story about 6 by 6, be sure to check it out.

Johnson County Library – Nurturing the Community’s Collective Wisdom