Preschool 0–5

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Talking Points for
Public Libraries

7. Students can get a head start on early reading success, if they are given opportunities to use public libraries. Students who are exposed to print-rich environments are more successful in school. And, they can go on to be successful lifelong learners, if that early boost is built upon by school library media programs.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

To enhance literacy development, it is imperative that children interact with a rich variety of print resources and respond with reading and writing. (Cahill 2004)

A 1998 report, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children, conducted by the National Research Council, concluded that "preschool children need high-quality language and literacy environments in their homes and in out-of-home settings. The public library is one such out-of-home setting suited for both parent and child in which these early language and literacy environments exist. (Diamant-Cohen 2007)

Libraries are an obvious destination for language development, due to their wealth of books and language-based programs for all ages. (Diamant-Cohen 2007)

Although public libraries do not have the same day-to-day influence on young children as their daycare centers or homes, they offer positive literacy environments and nurturing settings that prepare preschool children for more structured learning situations. Repeated attendance at such programs can aid healthy brain development of babies and young children that may in turn set a path for easier learning and school achievement later in life. (Diamant-Cohen 2007)

Two conditions found essential for creating a reader are (1) an early environment that offers literary experience, that is, a print-filled environment (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.), and adults reading these materials, and (2) a caring adult to introduce the child to literary pleasure. The public library meets both requirements. (Greene 1991)

Early reading experiences are prerequisite for future literacy development. Collaborative efforts among librarians, teachers, parents, and day-care providers may facilitate life-long reading in young people. (Fehrenbach et al 1998)

Libraries have been working with families for years within and outside of libraries, providing access to print, motivating young children to read, and making connections with schools. (Martinez 2008)

Vocabulary and comprehension, the unconstrained skills, are the foundational skills that children need to become proficient readers. These skills also determine whether children will become proficient learners. As children progress through school, they increasingly use vocabulary and comprehension skills to understand complex texts in all subjects. In other words, they use reading to learn. Libraries have helped many generations of children develop unconstrained reading skills. (Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and Public Library Association (PLA) 2005; ALSC and PLA 2011)

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)

There is a positive and statistically significant relationship between children’s services in public libraries and early reading success at school. Storytimes, lap-sit programs, and other services for young children are a major part of most public libraries’ missions. New state data from across the country confirms these services play a significant role in preparing children for success as readers. (Lance and Marks 2008)

In nearly half the classrooms (46%), at least one out of five kids was inadequately prepared for kindergarten when they started schools. (Mason-Dixon Polling 2004)