Preschool 0-5

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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.    


Public libraries have an important role to play in emergent literacy development! Research in the field of emergent literacy indicates that parents are the best “teachers” to get their children ready to learn to read. Parents should be encouraged to use all forms of media to support literacy. Young children’s emergent literacy skills—what they know about reading, writing, and media before they can actually read, write or evaluate what they see and hear—serve as the building blocks for their later efforts. Children learn these skills before they start school, beginning in infancy. Many parents and other caregivers, though, need to be taught the importance of early literacy and media literacy. They need expert guidance regarding how to develop critical pre-reading skills, how to manage the impact of a media rich landscape on the development of their child so that their child enters school ready to learn. Research confirms that reading success starts with young children enjoying books and being read to. An example of an effective practice is exposing children to library storytimes. Preschoolers’ earliest experiences with books and reading are important; parent and caregiver knowledge can build on those experiences. In storytime programs that are based on early literacy research, library staff assumes responsibility for helping parents and caregivers understand their key role with their children in early literacy development. At appropriate moments in the storytime program, library staff can share specific ways parents and caregivers can help their children and encourage them to provide valuable literacy experiences at home.    


Training for Library Staff and Volunteers

Born to Read (from the American Library Association). The joy of sharing books is a gift you can give children from the time they are born. Chanting nursery rhymes, singing songs, and reading stories can comfort and entertain even the youngest child. Listening to language lays the ground work for reading. Parents, child care providers, teachers, and other adults interested in the development of young children have a wealth of good books from which to choose. 

Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library. Training to child care providers and parents.    

Training for Parents and Caregivers

Early Words (from Multnomah County Library, Oregon). Training to parents and providers in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Russian to promote the language and literacy development of young children aged 0–5 years.

Mother Goose Asks Why (from the Vermont Center for the Book). Program that links children’s literature to science by using picture books and a family activity guide filled with projects that make science learning fun.

Zero to Three. Parenting/learning together classes (with trained facilitators).

Together for Children. Monthly parenting classes and storytimes.

Magic of Early Reading training (from Deschutes Public Library, Oregon). Children's librarians lead the workshops, which provide parents & caregivers with ideas for fun activities with books, as well as an understanding of the stages of child development and the six early literacy skills your child can start learning from birth.

Raising A Reader, a national program whose mission is to foster healthy brain development, parent-child bonding and early literacy skills critical for school success by engaging parents in a routine of daily “book cuddling” with their children from birth to age five.

Reach Out & Read, a national program that promotes early literacy by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud in pediatric exam rooms across the nation; also trains volunteers to deliver storytimes in clinics.    

Published Works and Websites

Adam, Marilyn Jagger. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. KIDS COUNT Data Center.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation sponsors this national and state-by-state initiative to track the status of children in the United States. The data center features child well-being measures for the 50 largest U.S. cities and contains more than 100 indicators of child well-being. For county and other community-level data, visit the CLIKS (Community-Level Information on Kids) database.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Knowledge Center.
A central clearinghouse for the Foundation’s research and grantee reports on education and child welfare.

Barnett, W. Steven, et al. The State of Preschool 2007. New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research, 2007.
The 2007 State of Preschool Yearbook is the fifth in a series of annual reports profiling state-funded pre-kindergarten programs in the United States measuring progress over six years. Behind the national averages lie large and growing disparities, making it ever more obvious that the chances for a child to benefit from state pre-K are largely determined by the state where he or she lives. The top 10 states in access now serve more than one-third of all their 4-year-olds. Longtime leader Oklahoma serves more than two-thirds of its 4-year-olds with high-quality state pre-K, and nearly three-quarters when special education is considered. In marked contrast, a dozen states still provide no state-funded preschool education to even their most disadvantaged families other than special education services for young children with disabilities.

Baxter, Susan J. and Ann Walker Smalley. Check It Out! The Results of the School Library Media Program Census / Minnesota School Library Media Programs. Final Report. St. Paul, Minn.: Metronet, 2003.

Calman, Leslie J. and Linda Tarr-Whelan. Early Childhood Education for All: A Wise Investment. New York: Legal Momentum’s Family Initiative and The MIT Workplace Center, 2005.
Describes the short- and long-term economic benefits to taxpayers of making high-quality early childhood education available to all children.

Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota.
Access to the results of applied research and other studies of early childhood and families.

Child Care and Early Education Research Connections (CCEERC).
Promotes high quality research in child care and early education and the use of that research in policymaking. Research Connections aims to fulfill its mission by making child care and early education research accessible to researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. Comprehensive in scope, the collection available here includes: research reports and summaries; datasets and statistics; and data collection instruments.

Child Care Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services. National Infant & Toddler Child Care Initiative, Zero to Three.
Provides access to state and territory profiles that provide demographic information about children birth to three and their families, as well as the child care system that serves them.

Child Care Bureau, Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center.
A national clearinghouse and technical assistance (TA) center that provides comprehensive child care information resources. Demographic information, licensing requirements and standards; number of licensed child care programs by state; definition of licensed family child care homes; and information about center staff/contact information is available.

Children’s Institute.
The Institute provides a snapshot of pre-K statistics for the State of Oregon, and an overview of the best practices in the early childhood development field. An issue brief focusing on early childhood development and other suggested readings are also available.

Child Trends DataBank.
The latest national trends and research on over 100 key indicators of child and youth well-being.

Education Commission of the States.
See “Early Learning,” “Pre-Kindergarten,” and “Reading/Literacy” under Education Issues for information and resources.

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008.
An annual report on the condition of children in America. The Forum alternates publishing a detailed report, America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, with a summary version (America’s Children in Brief) that highlights selected indicators. For the full report from 2007, see:

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. America’s Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2007: Family Reading to Young Children.

Friends of Libraries USA. Early Literacy. Early literacy (reading and writing) does not mean early reading instruction or teaching babies to read; it is the natural development of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between babies and parents, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences. This website lists links to critical studies.

Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Research primarily within three areas that support children’s learning and development—early childhood education, out-of-school time programming, and family and community support in education. Argues that for children and youth to be successful, there must be an array of learning supports around them. These supports, which must reach beyond school, should be linked and work toward consistent learning and developmental outcomes for children from birth through adolescence. Examples of nonschool learning supports include early childhood programs, families, after school programs, libraries, and other community-based institutions.

Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP), Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Complementary Learning.”

Heckman, James. Investing in our Young People. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2006.

Iruka, I. U., and Carver, P. R. Initial Results from the 2005 NHES Early Childhood Program Participation Survey. U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, 2006.
This report presents selected data on the non-parental care arrangements and educational programs of infants, toddlers, and preschool children, consisting of care by relatives, care by persons to whom they were not related, and participation in day care. Also includes data about parental involvement in 3-5 year-olds out of school educational activities.

Karoly, Lynn A. and James H. Bigelow. The Economics of Investing in Universal Preschool Education in California. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2005.
This study includes a substantial literature review and offers compelling evidence that society would benefit from universal, publically funded preschool.

Kharfen, Michael and Sheryl Shapiro. “New Poll of Kindergarten Teachers Shows Kids without Pre-K Unprepared for School; Well-Prepared Students Suffer.” Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. August 11, 2004. via the Internet Archive

Lance, Keith Curry, Christine Hamilton-Pennell, and Marcia J. Rodney with Lois A. Petersen and Clara Sitter. Information Empowered: The School Librarian as an Agent of Academic Achievement in Alaska Schools. Revised Edition. Juneau: Alaska State Library, 2000.

Lance, Keith Curry, Marcia J. Rodney, and Christine Hamilton-Pennell. How School Librarians Help Kids Achieve Standards: The Second Colorado Study. Colorado State Library and Colorado Department of Education, April 2000.

Lance, Keith Curry, Marcia J. Rodney, and Becky Russell. How Students, Teachers, and Principals Benefit from Strong School Libraries: The Indiana Study. 2007.

Lance, Keith Curry, Marcia J. Rodney, and Christine Hamilton-Pennell. Powerful Libraries Make Powerful Learners: The Illinois Study. Canton, Ill.: Illinois School Library Media Association, 2005.

Lance, Keith Curry and Robbie Bravman Marks. “The Link between Public Libraries and Early Reading Success.” School Library Journal. September 1, 2008.

Laughlin, Sara. Every Child Ready to Read @ your library® Pilot Project: 2003 Evaluation. A Joint Project of the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children. August 2003.

Library Development Services, State of Oregon. Oregon Statewide Early Literacy Initiative.
Information on early childhood development, early literacy, and the role of public libraries.

Library Development Services, State of Oregon. “Early Literacy Initiative – Why Early Literacy?” Oregon Statewide Early Literacy Initiative. July 24, 2007.

Lynch, Robert G. Exceptional Returns: Economic, Fiscal, and Social Benefits of Investment in Early Childhood Development. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute, 2004.
This study demonstrates that providing all 20% of the nation's three- and four-year-old children who live in poverty with a high-quality early childhood development program would have a substantial payoff for governments and taxpayers in the future. As those children grow up, costs for remedial and special education, criminal justice, and welfare benefits would decline. Once in the labor force, their incomes would be higher, along with the taxes they would pay back to society.

Martinez, Gilda. “Partnering for Reading Readiness: A Case Study of Maryland Public Librarians.” Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children. 5.1 (2007): 32-39.

Miringoff, Lee M. “The Public Library: A National Survey 2003.” Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. Available at:

National Center for Children in Poverty, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Early Childhood Profiles.
Highlight states’ policy choices that promote health, education, and strong families alongside other contextual data related to the well-being of young children.

National Governors Association. Building the Foundation for Bright Futures: Final Report of the NGA Task Force on School Readiness. 2005.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The Early Learning and School Readiness Program.
Supports research that attempts to specify the experiences children need from birth to age eight to prepare them to learn, read, and succeed in school. In addition, the program seeks to identify early interactions with adults and peers, the early childhood education teaching methods and curricula, and comprehensive early childhood interventions that support learning and development, specifically in domains that prepare children from diverse backgrounds experiencing diverse environments for kindergarten and the early grades.

Ontario Library Association, Queen’s University, and People for Education. School Libraries & Student Achievement in Ontario. Toronto: Ontario Library Association, 2006.

Public Agenda. Long Overdue: A Fresh Look at Public and Leadership Attitudes about Libraries in the 21st Century. New York: Public Agenda, 2006.
This report, commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Americans for Libraries Council, found that a strong majority of Americans think that libraries play an irreplaceable role in their communities. Large majorities say that all children should have a good, safe, appealing library in their neighborhoods.

Reynolds, Arthur et al. “Effects of a School-Based, Early Childhood Intervention on Adult Health and Well-being.” Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 161.8 (2007): 730-739.
The team of researchers followed more than 1500 low-income children who attended the high quality Chicago Child-Parent Center Preschools, tracking their development over 20 years and comparing them to children who did not attend preschool. Preschool participants were more likely to graduate from high school, and less likely to need special education, be held back a grade, or get in trouble with the law.

Roth, Froma P., Diane R. Paul, and Ann-Mari Pierotti. “Emergent Literacy: Early Reading and Writing Development.” American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. 2006.

Small, Ruth V., Jaime Snyder, and Katie Parker. New York State’s School Libraries and Library Media Specialists: An Impact Study. Preliminary Report. Syracuse, NY: Center for Digital Literacy, Syracuse University, 2008.

Smith, Ester G. Student Learning Through Wisconsin School Library Media Centers: Library Media Specialist Survey Report. 2006.

Smith, Ester G. Texas School Libraries: Standards, Resources, Services, and Students’ Performance. April 2001.

Todd, Ross J. and Jannica Heinstrom. Report of Phase Two of Delaware School Library Survey: “Student Learning Through Delaware School Libraries”: Part 1: Background, Theoretical Framework, Methodology and Findings. 2006.

United Health Foundation. America’s Health: State Health Rankings. (released annually).

U.S. Census Bureau. State and County QuickFacts.

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Household Education Surveys Program (NHES).
Data are available for 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005.    

Useful Websites for Statistical Data

Kids Count.
Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation

Child Trends Databank.
Source: Child Trends
Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

Family Literacy Research and Statistics.
Source: National Center for Family Literacy

National Center for Education Statistics.
Source: U.S. Department of Education