Kids' First Years

Reading to Young Children Makes a Memorable Summer Adventure

(All graphics: KFY)

By Michelle Smith Howard, President and CEO, Kids’ First Years

Alexandria, VA – A lifelong love of reading begins in the early years, and summer is a great time to get in the habit of reading books with your little one.

If you need help finding age-appropriate books for your child, the local libraries in Alexandria are excellent resources to introduce children to the wonderful world of books. All branches of the Alexandria Library system, a valued community partner of Kids’ First Years, offer a SummerQuest reading program with the theme Adventure Begins at Your Library for Summer 2024. SummerQuest 2024 is packed with programs, puppet shows, concerts, and more for kids of all ages.

Reading to children has many benefits: It helps them understand how the world works and sets the stage for success in school; it helps them settle down after a busy day, and it strengthens early literacy skills for school readiness and language development in the formative years from birth to age five. Best of all, reading together creates a special bond over a pleasurable shared activity for both the parent or caregiver and the child.

Babies and toddlers love looking at colorful picture books, especially when holding the child on your lap and pointing to different things on the pages. Don’t be shy about making animal noises or mimicking sounds that engage your child in the story. This makes them look forward to daily storytime because it’s so much fun.

Download the online SummerQuest 2024 brochure in English or Spanish to check program dates/times/locations at All programs are free, and no registration is required unless noted.

Here’s a small sampling of summer sessions for young children ages 0-5. Lots more – including weekend events – are on the website!

  • Baby Time (Duncan Library) on Mondays at 10:15 am for ages 0-14 months
  • Storytime in the Reading Garden (Beatley Library) on Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 am for ages 0-5
  • Baby and Toddler Time (Barrett Library) on Tuesdays at 11 am for ages 0-2
  • Toddler Tuesday (Burke Library) on Tuesdays at 10:15 am for ages 0-5
  • 1s and 2s Time (Beatley Library) on Wednesdays at 11:30 am for ages 1-2
  • Toddler Rock ‘N’ Read (Duncan Library) on Thursdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am for ages 0-5
  • Stories & Songs (Duncan Library) on Tuesdays at 10:15 am and 11:15 am for ages 0-5

Parents and caregivers can find book lists for preschool children on the Alexandria Library website, and the librarians can make suggestions based on topics of interest to the child.

“As a bonus, all of the summer books that you read, or re-read, to your child will count for both SummerQuest and 1000 Books Before Kindergarten ( – an early literacy program that encourages families to read 1,000 books to their young children before kindergarten,” said Diana Price, Central Library Manager, Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library.

“Reading piques a child’s curiosity and imagination,” said Katie Verma, Youth Services Manager at the James M. Duncan, Jr. Branch Library. “Also, as their language skills develop, it gives them ideas for things to talk about with their siblings and other family members.”

Visit the nearest library in Alexandria to sign up now for SummerQuest 2024 and let the reading adventure begin!

‘The Basics’ offers fun activities to support literacy

Kids’ First Years embraces The Basics, which are simple yet powerful principles that help children thrive in their early years. One of the principles is Read and Discuss Stories; below are examples of activities tied to this principle. Learn more about The Basics at

  • Make a cozy corner or book nook for reading with your child. Involve your child in choosing a comfy chair or a particular spot and gathering pillows and books for it.
  • When reading with your child, point to the pictures as you talk about them. For example, say, “Where is the mouse?” followed by “There’s the mouse!”
  • Let your child hold the book and turn the pages. Board books like “Pat the Bunny” have thick pages that are easier for little fingers to turn.
Partners – 1

Alexandria Library Branch Locations

Charles E. Beatley, Jr. Central Library, 5005 Duke St.

Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen St.

Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Rd.

James M. Duncan, Jr. Branch Library, 2501 Commonwealth Ave.

Katie Verma’s Favorite Summer Picture Books

The Bad Mood and The Stick by Lemony Snicket

Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson

Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea

Good Night Bat, Good Morning Squirrel by Paul Meisel

Hank’s big day : the story of a bug by Evan Kuhlman

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell

Otto Blotter, Bird Spotter by Graham Carter

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley

Surprise! by Caroline Hadilaksono

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