By Melissa Walden, MNONP Consultant and Educator
“1-2-3…Come read, brush, sing and play with me!” Preschool and family story hours are powerful, interactive ways to reach families with young children on good oral health practices and early caries prevention!
Throughout 2019, we read and shared the Minnesota Oral Health Project’s (MNOHP) new book, “Bye, Bye Germs”, at city and county libraries. This book uses kid-friendly language and images to help children learn the importance of daily brushing. “Bye, Bye Germs” gets kids excited to brush twice a day for two minutes. When Emma, a little girl, faces off against Jerry the Germ, Timmy the Toothbrush swoops in to teach her why she should brush. Together, they save her beautiful teeth.
There are many easy ways to incorporate new, fun learning moments as you read this story! When Timmy the Toothbrush enters the storyline, it’s a prime time to see whose toothbrush is blue just like Timmy’s. Kids love to share the color and description of their toothbrushes. Timmy and Emma also discuss how sugary foods “feed” Jerry on Emma’s teeth. This is a key cue to ask our little listeners what healthy foods Emma (and they) can eat for healthy teeth and bodies.
Kids love to volunteer and share their favorite stories, too. The song, “Brush, Brush, Brush” (sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”) is published in the back of “Bye, Bye Germs”. Everyone can join in for a sing-a-long prior to the end of their library session. This song demonstrates how kids can now implement this important ritual in their daily life.
During our story times together, we ask who has been to a dentist. We invite kids to share their experiences. This is an easy segue to remind parents that appointments should be made at the eruption of the first tooth. We can also offer resources for families with questions about finding a dental home.
MNOHP has developed games, cavities puzzles, and origami paper-folding activities. Depending on age ranges of children, we have many tools for active play times. And all activities reinforce best oral health care practices! While children are engaged in coloring workbooks or puzzles, we have a prime window to talk with parents about the importance of fluoride and fluoride varnishes. Each family also leaves with the gift of a new “Bye, Bye Germs” book to read.
Library story telling times give us an opportunity to share success stories. Who can resist a picture of a smiling child who is now pain-free because her/his teeth have been restored and sealed to prevent further decay? Library oral health activities change the lives of participants for the better. Parents, caregivers, and children can engage in easy activities together and learn how to incorporate brushing, flossing, and care as daily family rituals.
If you have any questions about implementing library story times in your community or about free MNOHP childhood resources, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Kids Playground has many creative ways to share information about resources and how to get kids engaged in daily oral health habits. For bulk copies of “Bye, Bye Germs” contact Cris Gilb at email@example.com