Children who visit libraries early in life are more likely to return as they grow up. The same goes for art museums. This summer, the Kansas City Public Library is partnering with the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art  for a program designed to enhance young readers’ love of listening – and looking.
Titled A Look and a Listen, the program will pair picture books with paintings in the gallery at the Kemper Museum. This June and July, children's librarians will read and talk about books that complement works in the brand-new exhibition Lois Dodd: Catching the Light.
Running every Wednesday, June 6 - July 25 (except for July 4), A Look and a Listen is part of the Library’s broader Summer Reading Program  for children and teens.
Programs will begin at 10:30 a.m. and run for approximately half an hour. In addition to the readings from librarians, museum docents will provide discussions of Dodd’s paintings.
A breathtaking retrospective of a 60-year career, Catching the Light features 51 works by a plein-air painter with a brilliant eye for colors and shapes — two things that are important to the development of early literacy skills.
"Dodd's paintings are fresh, they're real, and this program will expose children to new ways of looking at the world," says Clare Hollander, one of the seven librarians who will conduct readings inside the exhibit gallery.
Combining stories and art has always been crucial in teaching children to read. It’s no accident, after all, that librarians are behind the most prestigious prizes in children’s book illustration: the Caldecott Medal  and the Coretta Scott King Book Award .
"I think of art and literature almost in the same category," says Helma Hawkins, the Library’s director of Children's Services. “By exposing him or her to great stories and great art, you build a cultural world for your child.”
Admission to A Look and a Listen is free and no reservations are necessary, though the museum advises parents to bring their own pillows.
Because looking and listening are sometimes best done in comfort.
About the Author
Jason Harper  is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.