A note from the Los Angeles Public Library


Traditionally we think of writing as the process of thoughts being formed into words which make their way onto the page or screen via a writing utensil or keyboard. But what does writing look like for very young children?

At a library storytime that focuses on early literacy, you’re likely to see scarves swirling through the air, forming the alphabet. Parents and/or caregivers will take their babies’ hands to trace out the letters on name tags, books, signs, or other printed material. There will be all kinds of fun movements and stretches as participants mimic letters with their bodies. Brightly colored felt pieces are available for families to talk about what letters have the same shape.

As babies become toddlers, more rhyming fingerplays can be heard from the storytime room. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is either a tickling hand on someone’s own arm or fingers alternating on top of one another as the spider crawls up the water spout. Whether chanted or sung along with hand movements, fingerplays build the motor skills for gripping future writing tools. And whether that tool happens to be a crayon, marker, or a piece of chalk, the resulting scribbles mark the first steps of writing and self expression.


From these initial building blocks, creativity and writing is further supported at the library by the books and resources that feature a diverse range of experiences. When children see characters that look like them in the pages of picture books or read narratives that find a way to magically mirror their inner thoughts, they become inspired and empowered to tell their own stories.

Library programs also give children access to authors, illustrators, and other storytellers. During the “Your Author Series,” available on Los Angeles Public Library’s YouTube channel, the subjects are almost always asked what advice they would give to youth who want to become authors. My personal favorite comes from Laurel Snyder, who wrote “Endlessly Ever After,” a pick-your-path fairy tale book illustrated by Dan Santat. She advised turning off devices and staring at the ceiling. After five distraction-free minutes of staring, write down a sentence. Do this every day and become a writer.

With all that the library does to support literacy by way of imagination and inspiration, the various contributors from Los Angeles Public Library are honored to once again participate in this year’s Reading by 9 to offer support, ideas and tips for children’s creative expression.

Joanna Fabicon
Senior Librarian for Children’s Services, Los Angeles Public Library