When Karen Allen heard about the Starling at a South Carolina Summit on Early Childhood, she was “immediately smitten.” Allen is the youth services manager at the Greenville County Library System in Greenville, South Carolina. The system features 11 locations, with a 12th to open this fall. The libraries serve as a thriving hub for local families, many of whom have young children. Greenville Libraries’ youth services are all about empowering parents to be their child’s first teacher.
Karen says, “I thought the Starling would be a great tool for helping our patrons to see whether or not they are talking with and reading to their children as much as they think they are. I think most of us are probably overestimating.”
The Starling wearable device counts the words a child hears throughout the day, and provides parents (and the organizations they work with) meaningful data on their interactions. It also prompts them to speak more with daily tips, guidance, and weekly challenges. The result is that parents read, speak, and even sing more to their children, increasing their children’s potential while having a blast doing it.
The Starling is being introduced to parents this summer during the library’s Summer Reading Challenge. Families are encouraged to keep track of their reading throughout the summer, participants in each age group is given an age appropriate prize. This year, the grand prize for the infant category will be a Starling.
The library system has purchased Starlings for each of their libraries. “By having Starling Engagement Trackers available for circulation,” Allen says, “we’ll be able to suggest that parents borrow them so they can tangibly see how much they’re engaging with their child. It’s a fun way to measure interaction that provides concrete results.”
She continues, “Another thing I love about the Starling is that it works in any language. It’s really nice to be able to tell a group of people that they can read in their native language and the Starling will still count their words.”
Allen reports that parents are very excited by what they’ve seen of the Starling, and can’t wait to start trying it out.