Kindergarten–Middle School 6–12

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Talking Points for
Public Libraries

3. Students begin to connect reading and are motivated to read, thanks to entertaining group activities planned by well-trained library staff.

Quick Stats Supporting This Talking Point

Of states ranking in the top half on reading scores, seven out of 10 (70 percent) ranked in the top half on attendance at children's programs per capita… By contrast, seven out of 10 states (71 percent) in the bottom half on reading scores also rank in the bottom half on children's program attendance… (Lance and Marks 2008)

Four elements seemed to generate excitement about the public library: the ability to check out many titles at one time, the ability to choose what to read, the availability of family programs, and the fact that all of the above came at no cost. (MacGillivray, Ardell and Curwen 2010)

"Kids love the programs, and librarians, parents, and early-childhood educators do too," said [Sally] Anderson. "'What's the Big Idea?' helps librarians expand on the things they already do, incorporating science and math into all kinds of ongoing library programs. And the opportunity to experiment and solve problems on their own is a phenomenal self-esteem builder for kids. The activities are fun, but this is also serious stuff, and the kids understand that. They're not only playing; they're discovering the rewards of intellectual satisfaction." (Rupp 2009)

Public libraries increase literacy levels among elementary school children through summer reading programs, which are particularly effective at addressing the achievement gap. Summer reading programs increase young people’s interest in reading by combining silent reading with opportunities for children to read out loud, listen to stories, and take part in creative activities inspired by what they’ve read. These programs have also been very effective at drawing parents into students’ reading lives, a crucial element in developing strong reading habits. (Celano and  Neuman 2001)

For Latinos who visited the library weekly or more, the second most common reason for their visits was to take their children (33.6%). They were more satisfied with children’s books (91.9% and movies (86.9%) in English than with the same materials in Spanish (76.5% and 66.9% respectively). Satisfaction was also high with programs for children (85.5%). (Flores and Pachon 2008)

Eighty percent of Americans think that all children need access to a good, safe, and appealing library. Of the top public priorities for public libraries, having enough current children’s books ranked second (82% of respondents) and providing reading hours and other programs for children ranked fifth (79% of respondents). (Public Agenda 2006)

Library summer reading programs have a major impact on student reading levels, ability, and enjoyment. An evaluation of summer reading programs in Los Angeles found that participating children spent more time looking at and reading books than before they joined the program. During the summer, the percent of children reading 10–14 hours a week increased by nine percentage points and the proportion of children reading 15 or more hours a week rose by 11 percentage points. Teachers contacted as part of the Los Angeles study found that the difference between students who participated in summer library programs and those who did not was readily apparent the following fall. The most dramatic difference was that participants were much more enthusiastic about reading: 55% had a high enthusiasm for reading compared to less than 40% of non-participants. Teachers also reported that participating students who were reading above grade level before the summer were more likely to maintain this reading level than peers who did not participate in the summer reading program. (Evaluation and Training Institute 2001)