Ruth Ng has been helping children all over Reading with lockdown literacy by recording stories which you can watch on the council’s You Tube channel. Here Ruth talks about her varied role with Reading Libraries and beyond, her passion for sharing children’s picture books, and the pleasures of reading aloud.
Tell us about your role
I work casual cover for Reading Libraries, so I get called in if they need cover for someone being on holiday or off sick. This can involve anything from staffing the first floor reference desk, to running rhymetime, to shelving and processing books, or working on the visa service. At the moment, being called in might still involve staffing the visa desk, or we have the order and collect service running for the public to come and collect books they wish to borrow. I also currently help our lovely Children’s lead, Suzan, by recording a story time once a week to go up on our social media.
Challenges at the moment can be around the checks we have to make on which books we’re allowed to do a story time for. Although many publishers have been very generous, not all have made allowances for the pandemic, so we’re restricted in which books we can read and record and can’t just choose our favourites! Some publishers will only allow a live story time, which is something we decided not to do, so we have to find the books that we’re able to use in recorded videos, and ensure we’re following their rules.
Once I have a book, the next challenge is just finding a good time to make the recording. I have 2 children, so it needs to fit in around the dreaded home school! I like to be outside to do the pieces to camera, where I introduce the book and then sign off at the end, as the light is better, and I don’t get interrupted by household noise. So that means I’m reliant on the weather too!
Reading aloud with children
I love children’s picture books, and I’ve been passionate about sharing them for many years having done the weekly story time at my daughter’s playgroup when she was small, and also working as a book reviewer with a focus for many years on picture books. Children’s picture books vary hugely in style and content, and I enjoy trying to find ones that will work for this specific reading aloud experience.
Reading aloud with children is so important, and you can read with your children right from when they are babies, and then carry on even when they are much, much bigger! They love the repetition of hearing a familiar story again, and again, and they always enjoy it if you’re willing to do funny voices! As well as it being a bonding experience, it will build their language skills; expanding their vocabulary, teaching them about sentence structure and flow, as well as introducing them to the idea of reading for pleasure.
The Library has lots of ways that you can continue to support your children’s reading during lockdown. As well as the stories, and our order and collect service, we have a brilliant range of e-books available, lots of very popular audio books, and also a range of electronic magazines including some that are for children.
‘Librarianing all over Reading!’
I’ve had an eclectic library career, starting as a legal librarian in a law firm in central London, before moving to Reading. After having my children I helped put together a primary school library as a volunteer. And now, as well as working for Reading libraries, I work part time for the University as an Academic Liaison Librarian for the Henley Business School, so I am librarianing all over Reading! I really love reading aloud, and making the videos has been a huge pleasure for me. I’ve had some lovely responses, and it’s great hearing about children who have asked to hear more, or who copy me and play at doing their own story times after watching. I also know of a few adults who enjoy watching, as they find them calming to listen to on stressful days!
Watch Ruth read a story
Go to the Reading Libraries website.