Meet Ingha: the whimsical youth services librarian at the Montana Avenue Branch of Santa Monica Public Library

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Twice a week, you can find her at “Storytime” surrounded by the smallest members of the community. Encircled by tiny Santa Monicans, she sings, dances, and reads stories out loud — usually whatever’s newest to the library’s collection — and contributing to a top priority for our city to make sure all kids are ready for school.

A Volunteer Opportunity that Turned Into a Career

Growing up in a big family with lots of cousins, working with kids is a natural fit for Ingha. After graduating from UCLA,t wasn’t long until she started volunteering at the Ocean Park Library branch, where she connected with the children’s librarian. It was there that she saw a window of opportunity — perhaps she could make a life among books and children, combining her love for reading with her passion for people. With a little determination, Ingha returned to UCLA and graduated with a Master’s in Library Information Science.

Today, with her expertise in childhood literacy, she helps show kids at the Montana Avenue Branch Library just how much fun reading can be.

Getting Kids Started on the Right Foot

As a mother to two young children, Ingha is conscious of the effort it’ll take to make sure they’re kindergarten-ready. And she also knows there are opportunities for growth and development at every turn. Constant interaction stimulates a child’s mind, so narrating simple tasks throughout the day can be an education.

“Pointing things out when you’re driving,” Ingha says, “Hey, it’s a green light! That means go.”

Resources and events at the library are invaluable too. In fact, Ingha says one of the most gratifying parts of her job is seeing quiet children evolve emotionally, coming out of their shells after weekly visits to storytime.

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The Library: A World of Opportunity

To get your child started, Ingha recommends these free Santa Monica Library resources:

  • Storytime: This is an interactive time when librarians like Ingha read to young children. There’s also dancing and singing involved! Come 15 minutes ahead of showtime to get tickets. New families welcome! We love to fill the room!

  • Wednesdays at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.: for babies up to age 18 months.

  • Thursdays at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.: toddlers aged 18 months to 35 months.

  • Reading To Go program: Reading-2-Go is an early literacy program, for children ages 1 - 4, who are Santa Monica residents and not currently enrolled in a preschool or daycare. The program is approximately a 3-month commitment. Participants receive a bi-monthly rotation of themed kits that include books, toys, and music. Kits are available in English, Spanish, and Amharic. Additionally, the program offers one-on-one librarian contact and early literacy text tips. Upon program completion, participants are gifted a set of books to build a "home library."

  • Summer Reading Program: This program provides reading incentives for for children from birth to 5th grade. Your kids can check out books throughout the summer and pick up prizes for every 5, 10, and 15 hours that they read. The program spans three age groups: “Baby & Me” for infants up to 18 months, “Read-To-Me” for 2 to 5-year olds, and the “Independent Reader Club” for kindergarten through 5th grade.

  • Building Blocks For Kindergarten: Get a copy of “Building Blocks For Kindergarten”, or download the toolkit here. This toolkit provides guidelines to help get your child kindergarten-ready, which means developing things like their social, emotional, and motor skills.

Lifelong Learning Begins Early On

Making sure kids are ready for school is a top priority for our City. The “Building Blocks For Kindergarten” toolkit can help walk you through developing four skill areas that will give your child the best start possible. These skills include:

  • Social and emotional development

  • Self-care, physical development, and motor skills

  • Language

  • Early academics

Get started today with Building Blocks For Kindergarten.

Be sure to stay in touch for more early childhood resources at We Are Santa Monica.