Everyone in Fountain Hills can agree we are so lucky to have an amazing Lead Librarian, Christy Valentine, at the Fountain Hills Branch Library! She is an incredibly nice person who really enjoys her job. She is so great with children and never, ever loses her patience! (Even with my energetic little 2 yr old that thinks story time is his comedy hour.) The children in Fountain Hills truly benefit from all the wonderful events and programs that Christy organizes and backed with her experience and education, we can be confident in the positive impact it all has on their growing little minds. If you haven’t made it to a story time or any of the exciting events, make sure you do! They are fun, educational and a great way to make new friends!
We had the opportunity to ask Christy some questions, so please continue reading to learn more about Christy and the Fountain Hills Branch Library. We have also included some photos taken by Ally, myself and friends throughout the years at story time and the various events Christy has held at the library.
Please tell us about your position as Lead Librarian at the Fountain Hills Branch Library and what experiences led you to this.
Although I’ve always loved to read and listen to a good story, I never even considered becoming a Librarian while I was growing up. In High School I took a psychology class and I was hooked. From then on I thought I’d be a Child Psychologist. While I worked on my BA in Psychology at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colorado, I had a work study job in the College Library. As graduation grew closer I realized that being a Child Psychologist would be difficult for me in that I would take my work home with me.
My supervisor in the Library, Dianne Machado, encouraged me to consider Library Science. I had worked over 4 years in the College Library and in every Department. She believed I had a solid background in the day to day tasks and just needed my MA to learn philosophy, ethics, and management. I quickly learned in grad school that you can combine your Library Degree with lots of varied interests… corporate, academic, public, and school libraries not to mention museums and archives. I quickly discovered that I could have a career in Library Science where I worked directly with Children. It was a perfect match for me.
I began my career in Fountain Hills Branch Library as the Children’s Librarian in 2002 and then in 2005 I was promoted to Lead Librarian or Assistant Manager.
You put on fantastic classes and events for children. Please tell us about the drive behind these and your passion for encouraging early reading.
Thank you! The classes and events are just as fun and exciting for me as I hope they are for the kids. I believe it’s my passion for creative exploration and self-expression that motivates my programming. I want the children in the Library to feel comfortable discovering their own thoughts and ideas in a safe and supportive environment.
In terms of literacy I believe reading is a life skill that everyone needs, from reading instructions on medicine bottles to filling out school or job applications, and it can be TRULY entertaining on its own. No book based movie is ever as good as the dramatic images you create in your mind while using your own imagination when reading the book.
The Summer Reading Program has begun! Please tell us about this awesome program.
What an AWESOME program this year. Our theme is “Every Hero has a Story”. Our goal is to celebrate the heroes in books and in everyday life while helping kids recognize the hero within themselves.
Summer Reading is an online game that everyone can play… adults, teens, children, and prereaders. Children can earn points by reading or being read to (1 minute = 1 point), completing in-game literacy activities, and collecting virtual badges. Badges are based on Library Programs (25 points), Books Lists (10 points), and Community Experiences (25 points). At 250 points participants win free food from Chipotle and at 500 points they win a free book. There are also weekly drawing prizes for those who have read 20 minutes a day in the previous week.
To support this program we have had and will be holding activities based on our theme. We are currently conducting a “Heroes in Training” program for children 5-8 years old. Children are encouraged to pick up a weekly “heroic challenge” and upon completion they can select a mini-superhero pin to keep. Once they’ve completed all 8 challenges and collected 8 pins, they will be awarded a Certificate of Heroism.
What are some tips that parents can use at home to help encourage their kids to read?
The biggest tip I could give would be to set an example… read and let your children see you read on a regular basis.
Begin developing emergent literacy skills with your infants and toddlers through numerous activities such as repeating nursery rhymes, singing songs, using fingerplays, and exploring all kinds of board books and picture books.
If you have a child who is a reluctant reader, find out their areas of interest and then share related books, both fiction and nonfiction. Read out loud together or have your child follow along to an audiobook.
Participate in reading programs such as the Summer Reading Program or Grand Canyon Readers. There are many reading incentives online as well… or you can create your own reading game (i.e. book bingo, color by number of pages read, etc.).
Are there any upcoming events you are especially excited about?
As we work our way through Summer Reading, we are beginning to plan fall events. I have a few program ideas that I’m excited to work on.
- I want to support the Grand Canyon Readers program this year in our Preschool Story Time and through a new Children’s Book Club (ages 9-12 years old). We will read the 10 nominated books in the different age levels and vote for our favorite. The Library will be collaborating with the Public Schools to provide books and voting material for their students as well.
- Make a Difference Day is October 24, 2015 and I would like to schedule an event where teens will mentor and help children complete a service project for a nonprofit organization. I’m considering making blankets for Project Linus.
- I was recently contacted by Randy Beard of Fountain Hills Youth Theater regarding their new outreach program, Act Out!, and I’m excited to see if there are any collaborative events we can schedule for the Library.
A little bit about Christy:
I was born October 30, 1973 in Springerville, AZ. My family was living in St. John’s Arizona at that time. Both of my parents were teachers and originally from the San Luis Valley in Colorado. They decided to move back a few years later to be closer to family. I was raised in the same house my father was… along with my 4 sisters and 1 brother in Sanford, Colorado. We visited Arizona often while I was growing up and I always wanted to move back. I’m so happy to be here where it’s nice and warm year round.
About the Fountain Hills Branch Library:
Fountain Hills Branch Library is one of seventeen branches in the Maricopa County Library District. Our mission is to provide access to reading, exploring and discovering for all so they can be lifelong learners. We aspire to be the vibrant community front porch, a destination where people exchange ideas, gain access, foster creativity and pursue knowledge.
12901 N La Montana Dr, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Open Mon-Thur 9am-9pm and Fri-Sat 9am-5pm.
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