By Sean Barron
She may be only 3 years old, but already Gianna Page has a close bond with reading — and has amassed roughly 200 books to prove it.
But don’t think that a love of reading is where the Poland girl’s interests stop.
“She loves to sing and dance. She’s a little shy when she doesn’t know the boys and girls in class,” Gianna’s grandmother, Cheryl DiGiacobbe of Cortland, explained.
If the little girl does have a shy streak, it was nearly impossible to detect when she took part in a recent “Baby Brilliant: Tales and Talk for 2s and 3s” program at the Poland branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, 311 S. Main St.
Gianna, a daughter of Geno and Gina Page, had the opportunity to combine her love of reading, dancing and singing at the 30-minute gathering, which uses age-appropriate books, rhymes, songs and movements to enhance youngsters’ enjoyment for and success with reading and literacy, noted Vikki Peck, a children’s librarian who conducted the program.
“[Gianna] does unbelievable things,” DiGiacobbe said, adding that her granddaughter was able to name all of the princesses after a recent trip to Disney World near Orlando, Fla.
Also on hand was the girl’s grandfather, Don DiGiacobbe.
Gianna and the other 2- and 3-year-olds did quite a bit of shaking, moving and singing as Peck got things started with a song encouraging them to make such moves to slightly varying tempos.
She then read a silly fantasy story titled “Bark George” by Jules Feiffer about a dog that, while being taught to bark, instead makes the sounds of a cat, a cow, a duck and a pig because the dog accidently swallowed those animals beforehand. Peck used the story in part to help her young audience make the correct associations between an animal and the sound common to it.
Peck also sang the words in the Karen Katz book “The Babies on the Bus,” to the famous tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” before having the children clap in rhythm to the letters of the popular song “B-I-N-G-O.”
The well-known nursery rhymes and songs “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and “If You’re Happy,” all of which got the youngsters to touch the correct body parts in sync with the music and singing, closed out the program before the children made puppets with brown paper bags.
“Children don’t start learning to read when they go to kindergarten or preschool,” Peck observed. “Their brains develop earlier. Talking and letting them hear sounds is important.”
The public-library system offers a variety of Baby Brilliant programs for those age 6 months to 5 years. For information, call 330-744-8636 or go to www.libraryvisit.org.