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The Basics at HCPL


Helping Henrico families develop strong foundational literacy habits is something we are very passionate about at Henrico County Public Library. RVA Basics is an early learning campaign being widely embraced in the region that focuses on five essential aspects of a child’s development.

Science shows that 80% of brain growth happens by age three! Young brains develop like little muscles. They get bigger and stronger the more you interact with your infant or toddler. The Basics are five fun simple and powerful ways to help all our children aged 0-3 grow to be happy and smart. –

Our storytimes incorporate all aspects of The Basics. Not only are we reading, but we also sing, move, explore, and get to know one another! There are many storytime options for children of all ages, from newborns to the whole family. Find the best fit for your child.

The five Basics are listed below with some wonderful and fun titles that support them.

Maximize Love, Manage Stress

Feeling loved, safe, and supported is critical for a young child’s development. When little ones grow up in a world filled with love and support, they are able to face challenges and focus on learning.

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap, illus. by Greg Pizzoli
My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illus. by Julie Flett
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

Talk, Sing, and Point

Learning language can’t happen alone. Young children need interaction. They need to hear lots of words and be exposed to language in all of its varied forms.

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, illus. by R. Gregory Christie
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Count, Group, and Compare

We are surrounded by numbers and patterns every day. Being able to predict, understand, and use math skills is very important for us all. This is why it’s important to introduce children to math concepts from the beginning.

100 Bugs! A Counting Book by Kate Narita, illus. by Suzanne Kaufman
Crash! Boom! A Math Tale by Robie H. Harris, illus. by Chris Chatterton
Triangle by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen

Explore Through Movement and Play

Children are naturally curious. When they play, their curiosity is exercised and they are free to explore the world and how things work.

Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales
Play this Book by Jessica Young, illus. by Daniel Wiseman
Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Read and Discuss Stories

The single most important thing you can do to help grow a strong reader is to read with your child. Good reading is about more than just saying the words on the page, it is also about having conversations about what is happening in the book.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley, illus. by Kate Berube
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora

Through the five simple Basics, families can help their young children grow to be happy and smart. Our librarians can direct you to resources for each of the five Basics, and check out our Kids page for book recommendations, ways to get ready for Kindergarten, and fun games that support early literacy development.

The Basics approach was developed by the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard. For more information on the Basics, as well as tips for reading with little ones, visit

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