Preschool 0–5

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Talking Points for
Public Libraries

3. Young children disproportionately affected by the achievement gap can especially benefit from strong public library programs led by professional staff dedicated to their needs.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

As libraries traditionally serve a wide spectrum of socioeconomic groups, they are in an ideal place to take on deficiencies in school readiness connected to low income and cultural differences. (Diamant-Cohen 2007)

Libraries are places that are free to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, language, or age. They are open to the public 7 days a week. Because low socio-economic and minority children are at risk in term of early literacy development and because books and literacy materials are less accessible to poor parents and their children, public libraries' role as a free, public provider becomes even more vital to meeting this population's demands for literacy materials and support. Another study shows that early connections between home, language, and emergent literacy have significant influence on the later reading achievement of low income families' children (Yilmaz 2009; Storch and Whitehurst 2001)

[L]ibrary outreach programs gain essential importance serving those who do not have the opportunity to use the libraries on site. The fact that library outreach programs are important for the people living in public housing homes is clearly stated in Kinney's Ph.D. thesis and this naturalistic inquiry reveals that story mobile service has significant positive effects on children's emergent literacy skills in these homes. (Nespeca 1995; Kinney 1996)

Traditionally, emergent storybook reading and emergent writing in the home have been seen as the major site of literacy development , however because so many children are in preschool situations and because so many families have [Limited English Proficiency], more emphasis is being put on the need for literacy development at out-of-the-home settings. (Sulzby and Teale 1991; Yilmaz 2009)

The public library bridges that gap and allows children from low income families to have a better chance at succeeding in school. Children from middle-income families enter kindergarten having experienced an average of 1700 hours of shared reading. Children from low income families have had only 25 hours. (Adams 1990)

The library staff bolsters reading efforts taking place in homes, resulting in children better prepared to enter kindergarten. In 2005, 60% of children ages 3–5 who were not yet in kindergarten were read to daily by a family member. This rate is higher than the rate in 1993 (53%), but the rate fluctuated in intervening years. (Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics)

Decision-makers can meet the needs of their constituencies by supporting strong funding libraries. The #1 priority for library users is reading programs for children. (Marist College Institute for Public Opinion)

Early childhood development programs have substantial payoffs. Investments in high quality early childhood development programs consistently generate benefit cost-ratios exceeding 3-to-1—or more than $3 return for every $1 invested. For low-income and disadvantaged children, for every $1 invested in a quality pre-K program, there is a nearly $13 public benefit through savings on future public expenditures like special education, welfare, and especially crime. (National Governors' Association 2005)