Preschool 0–5

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QUICK FACTS & STATISTICS

   Public Libraries

All young children benefit from the opportunities to develop their early literacy skills and get ready to learn to read with the help of well-funded public libraries and pre-kindergarten programs.

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) The 2004 poll was the first national survey in more than a decade to solicit kindergarten teachers’ opinions on the value of pre-kindergarten. Nine out of ten teachers agreed that “substantially more” children would succeed in school if all families had access to quality pre-kindergarten programs. The agreement rate rose to nearly 100% among teachers with mostly poor, minority children in their classes.

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)

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 2008)

Children whose parents read to them become better readers and perform better in school. Other family activities, such as telling stories and singing songs, also encourage children’s acquisition of literacy skills. Before attending parent training sessions, many parents of 0-23 month olds were the least likely to share books and use the library, but after attending the sessions, they dramatically increased their frequency of use. (Association for Library Service to Children and Public Library Association 2011)

Early literacy theory emphasizes a natural unfolding of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between young children and adults, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences. By focusing on the importance of the first years of life, we give new meaning to the interactions young children have with the written word, oral stories and positive interaction with their caregivers. Looking at early literacy development as a dynamic developmental process, we can see the connection (and meaning) between an infant mouthing a book, the book handling behavior of a two year old, and the page turning of a five year old. We can see that the first three years of exploring and playing with books and other forms of media, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words, and scribbling are truly the building blocks for language and literacy development. (Roth, Paul and Perotti 2006)

The #1 priority for library users is reading programs for children. A study released by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion (March 2003) showed that early literacy programs for parents and caregivers boosted youngsters’ interest in vocabulary, reading, and library support. That early support helps children later, both in school and with reading in general. Further, a 2006 Public Agenda report, commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that 80% of Americans think that libraries should offer special programs for children and have a large supply of current children’s books. (Marist Institute 2003; Public Agenda 2006)

New research proves what many parents and educators have long believed: schools cannot do it alone. Children need multiple opportunities to learn and grow—at home, in school, and in the community. Complementary learning is a comprehensive strategy for addressing all of these needs and ensuring success for all children and youth. Complementary learning is the idea that a systemic approach—which intentionally integrates both school and non-school supports, like the services offered by libraries—can better ensure that all children have the skills they need to succeed. (Harvard Family Research Project)

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.
The economic and social benefits from these investments amount to much more than just improvements in public balance sheets. By improving the skills of a large fraction of the U.S. workforce, these programs raise the gross domestic product, reduce poverty, and strengthen U.S. global competitiveness. Recent writings of James J. Heckman, Nobel Laureate in Economics, and of Art Rolnick, senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, point to the positive economic benefits that result from investments in early care and education. Rolnick writes that early childhood investments yield “extraordinary public returns.” By his calculations, the internal rate of return of the Perry Preschool program, a high-quality preschool intervention program for three and four year olds, yielded an internal rate of return of 16%, 12% of which was returned to society. (National Governors' Association 2005)

   School Library Media Programs

A well-staffed, adequately funded school library media program is an integral component in a student’s education. Through these programs, students develop the all important learning for life skills, as well as an appreciation for the written and spoken word, and visual image.

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) The 2004 poll was the first national survey in more than a decade to solicit kindergarten teachers’ opinions on the value of pre-kindergarten. Nine out of ten teachers agreed that “substantially more” children would succeed in school if all families had access to quality pre-kindergarten programs. The agreement rate rose to nearly 100% among teachers with mostly poor, minority children in their classes.

It is important for school librarians to introduce themselves to the early childhood educators in their schools by inviting them to visit the school library and look at the available resources. They can also make plans for story time with the students and collaborate to build a foundation for early literacy. (Schwindt and Tegeler 2010)