Who’s coming to the ALSC Virtual Institute on Thursday and Friday, September 15 and 16? I’ll be there, and hopefully you’re making plans to be there too. The 2016 Institute’s theme of "Build. Believe. Become.” will resonate anew as we gather in a first-time, online educational community, rather than a specific conference location. The Association for Library Service to Children’s 2016 Institute is one of the only virtual conferences devoted entirely to children’s literature, librarianship, and technology. I’m all a-buzz with excitement and eager to hear, see, and interact with the stimulating schedule of programs planned by the 2016 ALSC National Institute Planning Task Force, chaired by Emily Nanney. Kudos to the ALSC staff and the Task Force for finding a great new way to deliver the rich content originally planned for presentation in Charlotte, N.C. The ALSC Virtual Institute will be everything you need in one place (or is it virtual space)—programming, Big Idea Sessions, networking, discussion forums, and much more. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection to participate in the Virtual Institute and a comfortable setting to host your own “In-House Training.” I, personally, will be attending the Institute from my home office in Philadelphia.
The Virtual Institute kicks off with a keynote presentation by Dr. Kathleen Gallagher (photo at left) on children in poverty, social justice, and libraries. Dr. Gallagher is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Education and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Dr. Gallagher’s cutting-edge Big Ideas Session is supported by the Carole D. Fiore ALSC Leadership Fund. The nine additional programming presentations are each 75 minutes in length on a range of topics including advocacy, early literacy, story times, media mentorship, STEM programming, and inclusive children’s literature. So much exhilarating education and information will be packed into just two days—September 15 and 16! You won’t even have to take notes; another benefit for Institute attendees is that all Institute programming will be recorded for on-demand viewing and available for one year following the event.
Councilor’s Report – Annual Conference
At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, I was proud and prepared to roll up my sleeves and lend a strong youth voice to ALA Council. I knew I was in for a busy, exhausting conference, but the organizational governance nerd in me hit the ground running with a singular thought: “Bring it on!”
Attending three Council sessions is just one of my duties as ALSC’s designee to the governing body of ALA. Outside of conferences, I keep up with issues and discussions appearing on the Council electronic discussion list (EDL) and collaborate with the AASL and YALSA division councilors on potential resolutions affecting youth. As you might imagine, EDL posts spike in the weeks just before Midwinter and Annual, and there are oodles of documents and reports to read long before I board the plane. I’m always sure to keep the ALSC President and Board of Directors apprised of what’s coming up so we can maintain our commitment to both a knowledge-based, decision-making process and the core values of ALSC.
So what was I up to in Orlando? Here are just a few of the highlights:
Meet-and-greet in the ALA Council suite. On Saturday evening, June 25, AASL Councilor Diane Chen and I hosted a meet-and-greet in the ALA Council suite for any youth division members interested in learning more about what we do and how they can be a part of it. We enjoyed the company of a small but passionate group eager to hear more about how Council works and our plans for potential youth-oriented resolutions. Diane and I want to host another meet-and-greet at Midwinter in Atlanta, so we hope to see you there!
Youth Council Caucus
. After Council I on Sunday, June 26, I co-convened the Youth Council Caucus (YCC) with AASL Councilor Diane Chen and YALSA Councilor Todd Krueger. We talked with our peers in detail about the three school library resolutions that Diane would be introducing in Orlando, as well as plans for a summer reading and learning resolution that I’ll be introducing in Atlanta in January. Furthermore, we brainstormed ideas for getting more youth representation on Council, particularly how we can identify and recruit members from our respective divisions to appear on the 2017 ALA election ballot. (Interested? Let me know!) Look for the minutes from the YCC in Orlando on the group’s ALA Connect space
in the next few weeks.
Council fora. I participated in two of Orlando’s three Council fora sessions, which took place from 8:30-10 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday evening. Traditionally, each forum is an opportunity to talk informally (i.e. no Robert’s Rules of Order) with other Council members, many of whom are seeking feedback on resolutions they plan to bring to an upcoming Council session.
I was profoundly moved during Council fora in Orlando, where we conducted several emotionally-charged discussions while always maintaining an atmosphere of respect for our colleagues and their viewpoints. Particularly difficult for me was speaking on behalf of our youngest, most vulnerable library populations during a passionate conversation about the proposed Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons. I won’t lie—I cried. But the support I felt as I talked about the important work we do as ALSC members was truly incredible. As ever, I was proud to be an Everyday Advocate among many.
Reports of ALA/Council Committees, Special Committees, and Task Forces. Council members enjoyed detailed reports from the following dedicated committees and task forces:
ALA Treasurer’s report. At the request of ALA Treasurer Mario Gonzalez, Council approved the FY2017 Total ALA Budgetary Ceiling of $65,403,215.
Council Election Results. The following councilors were elected to the 2016-2017 Council Committee on Committees (COC): Diane R. Chen, Ed Garcia, Alexandra P. Rivera, and Christian Zabriskie. The COC will be chaired by 2016-2017 ALA President-Elect James (Jim) G. Neal.
The following councilors were elected to the 2016-2017 Planning and Budget Assembly (PBA): Councilors-at-Large Tamika Barnes, Eboni Henry, and Lessa K. Pelayo-Lozada; and Chapter Councilors Majed J. Khader and Dale K. McNeill.
Resolutions and Interpretations. Due to rich discussions and thoughtful feedback from members during both Council sessions and fora, Council adopted the following resolutions and interpretations in Orlando:
- Resolution Calling Upon Libraries to Build More Inclusive Communities
- Resolution in Support of the Professional Cataloging Processes and Determinations of the Library of Congress
- User-Generated Content in Library Discovery Systems: An Interpretation of the ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Religion in American Libraries: An Interpretation of the ALA Library Bill of Rights
- Resolution Urging Immediate Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled
- Resolution on Equity for School Libraries for the Department of Education Making Rules for ESSA
- Resolution on Equity for All in School Libraries
The following resolutions were deferred until the 2017 Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta:
- Resolution on Gun Violence Affecting Libraries, Library Workers, and Library Patrons
- Resolution Concerning the Creation of the Deaf Culture Digital Library
The following resolution was deferred to a working group to be appointed by 2016-17 ALA President Julie Todaro:
- Resolution Concerning the Role of Chapters in the American Library Association
The following resolution was forwarded to the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC):
- Resolution on ALA Support for Spectrum Scholarship Program
Memorials and tributes. Memorial resolutions were passed in honor of the following individuals:
- Ned Vizzini
- John Ganly
- Naomi Kietzke Young
- Orvin Lee Shiflett
- Richard Sweeney
- Dolores Bullock Owen
- Trudy Seidel Jaques
- Larry Romans
- Charles Weld Robinson
- Victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shootings
The following tribute resolutions were also passed:
- Resolution Honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Video Round Table (VRT)
- Resolution Honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs
- Resolution Thanking Mary Alice Baish for Her Service as the 30th GPO Superintendent of Documents
- Resolution of Appreciation to Congressional Champions for Support of School Libraries and School Librarians in the Every Student Succeeds Act
As we look ahead to the ALA 2017 Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, I’ll be sure to keep you informed about ongoing Council discussions affecting the youth and families we serve. Of course, you can always reach out to me by email
with your questions and feedback about ALA Council and Council-related issues. I welcome your input at any time.
Thank you again for this incredible opportunity to serve ALSC. See you in Atlanta!—Jenna Nemec-Loise, ALSC Division Councilor
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2016 Banquet Supporters
ALSC sincerely thanks all of Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet sponsors! It was a truly fabulous night!
Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency
HarperCollins Children's Books
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Penguin Young Readers
Disney Book Group
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Thank You to Our Friends Donors
Many thanks to the following generous contributors to ALSC. To learn how you can support ALSC, visit our website and click on "About ALSC--Contact ALSC--Donate to ALSC” on the left-hand navigation menu.
Friends of ALSC
Neal and Paula Holmes
Jean B. Bellavance
Celebrating colleagues with 25 years of ALSC membership
Branch Manager and Early Literacy Coordinator
Allen County Public Library
Fort Wayne, Indiana
ALSC membership: 25 years
Where did you attend library school?
The University of Chicago, where I met the (hopefully) soon-to-be Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden!
(Editor's note: And, yes, Carla Hayden was named Librarian of Congress since the writing of this piece!)
When was your very first library position?
1981, Children’s Librarian, Marshall Square Branch, Chicago Public Library. I worked in a port-of-entry storefront branch in a neighborhood of Spanish-speaking immigrants. My main duties were classic library work -- doing collection development, storytimes and visiting schools. I had on-the-job schooling in Spanish, with more formal instruction at night. Spanish has greatly enriched my work as a librarian.
What do you love most about your current job?
The opportunity to help improve outcomes for children by sharing strategies, information and materials with adults about the important role they play in setting the stage for their children’s success as learners.
You’re marooned on a desert island; what three books and one food item do you need to survive?
To survive and leave – manual on how to survive on the island; a book on celestial navigation and wayfaring to find my way out, and a blank book to write in.
If I know help is coming before supplies run out -- The Annotated Shakespeare (Three Volumes in One): The Comedies, The Histories, Sonnets and Other Poems, The Tragedies and Romances. It’s huge (close to 2500 pages); a Spanish-English dictionary to at long last improve my skills, and a blank book to write in.
Food: It’s probably cheating to say salad, but all of one’s dietary needs and pleasures could be met this way.
What are your hobbies?
Volunteering, travelling with my family, going to the Y, drinking wine while cooking, walking my dog, and of course reading.
What three words best describe you?
Hopeful, creative, worried
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Celebrating ALSC's 75 Years with Voices of ALSC
ALSC recently released a series called Voices of ALSC: The ALSC Oral History Project
, built upon the collection of audiotaped interviews compiled by the Oral History Committee. The first interview of the series features Zena Sutherland, renowned reviewer of children's literature and recipient of ALSC's Distinguished Service Award. Sutherland was interviewed in 1998 by Peggy Sullivan whose many roles in ALA include Past-President of ALSC. The interview is available for ALSC members to download from the ALSC History webpage
. Subsequent interviews in the series will be added as they become available.
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Phoenix Public Library was looking for a fun, innovative way to more fully engage parents in storytime while incorporating Every Child Ready to Read concepts. After testing different approaches, tweaking the format, and practicing with families to get quality feedback, DIY Storytime was born.
DIY Storytime goes beyond providing early literacy tips and modeling age-appropriate activities. In order to change parent behavior, the storytime is turned over to the parents to participate in skill-building activities with their child.
The concept of “do it yourself” is a fun way to show parents that they can be the storytime star in their own home, while also imparting the importance of the storytime concepts that library staff use and practice with families on a daily basis.
How it works:
Storytime presenters are provided with a ring of activity cards and a bin of high-quality storytime books. To create their storytime, presenters select five to eight activities from the ring of cards (each card includes corresponding early literacy tips). There are three types of cards: Modeling, Active, and Skill Building.
DIY Modeling (Presenters pick 1-2 cards)
A book the presenter reads paired with an early literacy tip they say and then model using the book.
Ex: The card says: “Reading together is a great way to increase vocabulary because books use more rare words than TV or even everyday conversation.” Presenter reads a book to the group, stopping to explain unusual words. The presenter picks a word he/she explained and has families make up a sentence using that word together.
DIY Active (Presenters pick 2-4 cards)
A rhyme, song, or activity that the presenter facilitates paired with a practical tip.
Ex: The card says: “Use, or make up, songs that include labeling items to help children learn object names.” Presenter sings Head Shoulders Knees and Toes together, but before singing have the children find their own head, shoulders, knees, and toes with their parents’.
DIY Skill Building (Presenters pick 1-2 cards)
An early literacy activity that the parent and child do together with a book the presenter passes out to each family.
Ex: The card says: “To become good readers, children need to be able to hear the smaller sounds in words.” The presenter models clapping out the syllables in a word then passes out a book to each family. When reading this book together, the parent and child clap out the syllables for the last word on each page.
The DIY Storytime system is flexible for both presenters and participants. Presenters can plug in their own favorite books and songs. They use the tip cards as a guide but become familiar with the tips and activities before storytime so they can use their own style, wording, and transitions. Parents are reminded that the activities work for all ages and that if the child cannot fully participate in the activity they will still benefit from the conversation and interactions.
Typically, DIY is offered as part of a rotation with regular storytimes. The response has been very positive. Parents love the opportunity to “strut their stuff” and presenters have new tools to engage families in early literacy.—Jacqui Higgins-Dailey and Anna White, Phoenix (AZ) Public Library
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Improved Outcomes for Spanish-Speaking Kindergartners
A recent evaluation of Multnomah County Library’s (Portland, Oregon) Listos para el kínder (Reading for Kindergarten), a culturally responsive kindergarten readiness program, revealed participants are more academically prepared for school compared to Spanish-speaking peers, parents gained an understanding of how their children learn and their role in the process, and parents also noted social and academic growth in their children during the program. Education Northwest, a third party evaluation firm, engaged in focus groups and one-on-one interviews with parents and kindergarten teachers to assess the outcomes for the 60 preschoolers who participate annually. In addition to improved kindergarten readiness by students, teachers noted that participants made exceptional progress during the school year, especially in literacy.
Listos is a 12 week program, held annually at five of Multnomah County Library locations and team taught by a bilingual early childhood educator and library storytime trained bilingual staff. The library is active in a second year evaluation to confirm the initial results and go deeper on the outcomes of this successful project. Staff are exploring making the curriculum available to share with others.
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Scanning at the OPAC: Support for Accelerated Reader
Here at the Westerville (Ohio) Public Library, students and parents often inquire about the accelerated reading (AR) level, point value, and Lexile level of books. Instead of visiting other websites to retrieve this AR information, our catalog conveniently houses this content for many of our youth materials.
This information is valuable since many students in our school district and surrounding areas often need to read books within a certain AR range and earn a set number of AR points every nine weeks for their language arts classes.
To better serve our customers, we recently made some improvements as to how we share this information.
Previously, whenever our youth services librarians were asked the AR level of a book, we would complete the following steps:
- Search for the title in our catalog
- Select the correct title from the results
- Scroll down to the notes field of the record
- Share the AR level, points for the book, or Lexile level
- Repeat these steps for additional titles
To streamline this process, we thought it would be convenient if customers could walk up to a kiosk and scan a book’s barcode, enabling all of the pertinent AR information to appear instantaneously.
Once this idea was hatched, our computer services department brought it to fruition. Now, with one scan of the library’s barcode, customers can learn the AR level, point value, and Lexile level for any title that has this information in its record.
Instead of using a kiosk, we decided to increase the functionality of our OPACs by designating one of them as our AR checkpoint, complete with 3-D signage to highlight the new service. The main screen on this particular OPAC is preset to our AR page and contains an inconspicuous scanner nearby where customers can conveniently scan barcodes. From this screen, customers can easily transition back to the main catalog whenever needed.
“The AR scanner is a fabulous way of finding out the AR level of books. It is used regularly and it helps people not feel lost any more about how to find the levels of books,” says youth services librarian Susan Carr, Westerville Public Library.
Katie Ross, another youth services librarian at Westerville, says “[The barcode scanner] is a great service to answer the question most frequently asked at the desk and it is easy to use.”
Collectively, our youth and computer service departments have reduced the AR check process from multiple steps to one simple scan. In this way, we have created a unique and independent service that allows our customers to receive the information they need right away.
In addition to scanning books, the AR page allows customers to do customized searches to pull up books exclusively by points or AR level, making the AR page an even more powerful and multifaceted tool.—Ashley Mensah, Westerville (Ohio) Public Library
The Mini Institute will deliver everything you need in one place--programming, keynote author/illustrator events, networking, discussion forums, and much more. An intensive learning opportunity with a youth services focus, the Mini Institute is designed for front-line youth library staff, children’s literature experts, education and library school faculty members, and other interested individuals. Presenters include Phil and Erin Stead, Laura Dronzek, Kevin Henkes, and Carmen Agra Deedy, among others.
The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) joins School's Out Washington to present, Dare to Disrupt! The Pathway to Excellence and Equity in Education, October 24-26 in Seattle, Washington.
The conference promises new and interactive workshops--merging the summer learning and afterschool fields to offer year-round, out-of-school time strategies and real examples that are working in communities across the country. Practitioners, policymakers, funders, program providers, educators and researchers will share ideas and blaze a path for the future of afterschool and summer time.
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Hear Ye! Hear Ye!
Last fall, four ALSC members were chosen for the Penguin Young Readers Group Award (now the Penguin Random House Young Readers Group Award)
to attend their very first ALA Conference. In June, Elizabeth Esposito
, South Huntington Public Library (New York), Kristel Sexton
, Ypsilanti District Library (Michigan), Kelly Shea
, Paoli Library (Pennsylvania), and Caryn Wilson
, Three Rivers Public Library (Michigan), landed in Orlando, Florida, to take advantage of the professional development offerings, first-class exhibits, and networking opportunities at the ALA 2016 Annual Conference. They are writing about their experiences on the ALSC blog. Click on their names to be linked to their stories.
ALSC Reps Sought for IFLA Sections
ALSC is seeking personal members to represent the association on the following International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) youth sections:
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) Section on Libraries for Children & Young Adults
- International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) Section on Literacy & Reading
One representative for each section will be selected by the ALA Executive Board and recommended to IFLA to serve a four-year term from 2017-2021.
ALSC personal members who are interested in representing ALSC on either section must complete the online application
, submit a resume or curriculum vitae, and one letter of recommendation to the ALSC office
, no later than August 31, 2016.
For a list of qualifications, required documentation, responsibilities, and descriptions of each section, please see the online application
Please contact Aimee Strittmatter
for questions related to applying as an ALSC representative.
Applications Open for ALA/ALSC Reps to USBBY
ALSC also is seeking a personal member interested in representing ALA/ALSC on the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY).
One representative will be selected by the ALA Executive Board to serve a two-year term from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018. If you are interested, please complete the online application
and submit a cover letter addressed to the ALA Executive Board, a resume/CV, and one letter of recommendation no later than Tuesday, September 6, 2016
For a list of qualifications, documentation needed for applying, and responsibilities of USBBY board members, please see the online application form
ALSC Virtual Institute Coming Soon!
In lieu of ALSC's in-person event in Charlotte, ALSC is hosting a Virtual Institute--entirely in an online community--September 15-16, 2016. No special software is needed to attend - just a computer and internet browser.
The Institute will provide everything in one place--programming, keynotes, networking, discussion forums, and much more. This intensive learning opportunity is youth-services focused and designed for front-line youth library staff, children’s literature experts, education and library school faculty members, and other interested adults.
ALSC recently announced that Kathleen (Kate) Gallagher, Ph.D., Williams Endowed Community Chair for Early Childhood Education, University of Nebraska at Kearney and Buffett Early Childhood Institute, will deliver the Big Ideas Keynote Session at 9:15-10:15 a.m. Central time on Thursday, September, 15. The keynote is sponsored by the Carole D. Fiore Leadership Fund.
Dr. Gallagher is an educational psychologist and early childhood professional, with many years’ experience teaching and leading early childhood programs. She designs and evaluates approaches that promote the development and wellbeing of young children, families, and early childhood professionals – particularly in the contexts of poverty, disability, and cultural diversity.
Fall Online Courses from ALSC
ALSC's Fall 2016 online courses begin Monday, September 26, 2016 and registration is open. This season's offerings include:
NEW! Demonstrating ALSC Competencies (6 weeks)
Instructor: Rachel Reinwald, Youth Services Librarian/School Liaison, Lake Villa District Library
Designed to help participants find ways to demonstrate competence in youth services to administrators or potential employers.
Engaging Readers and Writers with Interactive Fiction (4 weeks)
Instructor: Christian Sheehy, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Xavier University
Introduces interactive ?ction (IF) while showing how to create narrative text-based games for a variety of audiences and platforms.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy (4 weeks, 1.2 CEUs)
Instructor: Angela Young, Head of Children's Department, Reed Memorial Library
Learn how to provide educational programs using STEM without going to school to become a scientist. Learn to present and adapt programs for multiple ages.
The Sibert Medal: Evaluating Books of Information (6 weeks)
Instructor: KT Horning, Director, Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Explore non-fiction books for children, and what makes these award winning books great. Participants will also look at past Sibert Award winners to hone critical skills in nonfiction evaluation.
Storytelling with Puppets (5 weeks, 2.2 CEUs)
Instructor: Steven Engelfried, Youth Services Librarian at the Wilsonville Public Library
Practical strategies for bringing stories to life with puppets; techniques for using puppets with various ages, from toddlers to early elementary students; tips for adapting folktales and picture books into puppet presentations; strategies for rehearsal, planning, and development of puppet stories; and background about how puppet tales develop narrative skills and reading motivation from the audience.
Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC website
. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Figliulo
by email or at 1-800-545-2433 ext 4026.
Media Awards & Notables - Send Us Your Suggestions
ALSC welcomes suggestions from our members for the 2017 book awards! The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2016, Please use the appropriate webform to submit your suggestion.
Help Us Award Our Members
Applications are open for many of ALSC's professional awards and grants. This year more than $100,000 will be given away in professional awards, grants, and scholarships. Opportunities include:
Penguin Young Readers Group Award
Baker & Taylor Summer Reading Grant
Maureen Hayes Author/Illustrator Award
Distinguished Service Award
Light the Way: Library Outreach to the Underserved Grant
Award Acceptance Remarks Available
Did you miss the ALSC media award acceptance speeches in Orlando? Or just want to enjoy them again at your leisure? PDFs of the Batchelder, Belpré, Caldecott, Carnegie, Geisel, Newbery, Sibert, and Wilder acceptance remarks are available online. Find links to them at http://www.ala.org/alsc/2016-award-acceptance-speeches
Call for Suggestions – “Reading Up” Book List
Ever heard a parent say, “My child is reading beyond her grade level; got any suggestions for what she can read next?” If you have a great title or two for a kindergartner reading at a third grade level, or a fifth grader reading at a seventh grade level, the ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee wants to hear from you!
The ALA-Children’s Book Council (CBC) Joint Committee is launching a new pilot bibliography to provide guidance to caregivers interested in finding titles for children who read at an advanced level. We are looking to library professionals, publishers, and anyone with a passion for child literacy to provide suggestions for this list, especially titles offering diverse characters and settings as well as by diverse authors and illustrators, and notable recent publications. These books should challenge children who read above their grade level yet still contain age appropriate themes and content.
The list will have three sections:
- Titles for Kindergartners/1st graders reading at a 3rd grade level
- Titles for 2nd/3rd graders reading at a 5th grade level
- Titles for 4th/5th graders reading at a 7th grade level
Submissions are due by September 5, 2016. The ALA-CBC committee, comprised of librarians and CBC member publisher employees, will review the submissions to create a final list of titles for each category. This final list will be released in early 2017.
Please contact CBC Director of Programming, Shaina Birkhead
, with questions.
Engaging Families in Learning
Harvard Family Research Project surveyed public library leaders from around the country about their family engagement practices, convened a learning community of librarians, conducted interviews with librarians, and reviewed research to closely study family engagement practices in public libraries. The report highlights five promising ways that libraries engage families in children’s learning from early childhood and throughout the school years.
- Reach Out: Libraries reach out to families to promote the programs, collections, and services that are vital in a knowledge economy.
- Raise Up: Libraries elevate family views and voices in how library programs and services are developed and carried out.
- Reinforce: Libraries guide and model the specific actions that family members can take to support learning, reaffirming families’ important roles and strengthening feelings of efficacy.
- Relate: Libraries offer opportunities for families to build peer-to-peer relationships, social networks, and parent-child relationships.
- Reimagine: Libraries are expanding their community partnerships; combining resources and extending their range; improving children’s and families’ well-being; and linking to new learning opportunities.
Libraries are creating new ways to serve all families and their children. Heather B. Weiss, director of Harvard Family Research Project, says, “What we’ve learned is extraordinary. We’ve heard from a librarian in Alaska who reaches out to families—so geographically dispersed that you need a plane to get to them—by setting up satellite bookshelves in fire stations. We even heard from a library system in Pennsylvania that has re-envisioned the supportive role that libraries can play for families by running the city’s afterschool programming.”
The report also draws attention to the assets of public libraries for building a foundation for family engagement. These resources include the people they serve as well as the expertise of librarians; the place each holds as a trusted and welcoming institution in the community; and the role they play as a platform for children and families to use library materials for discovery, innovation, and the creation of new knowledge.
New Research Results on Preschool Academic Skills
New research combining eight large child care studies reveals that preschools prepare children to succeed academically when teachers provide higher quality instruction.
Margaret Burchinal, senior scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led a research team whose findings have groundbreaking implications for publicly-funded early care and education. They found as the overall quality of instruction in preschool classrooms increases, children experience better outcomes across a range of skills, but the needle only moves on language and reading skills when instructional quality is at or above a threshold.
“Preschoolers in center-based care showed larger gains in reading and language when their teachers spent more time supporting their learning—but only if the quality of instruction was in the moderate to high range,” Burchinal said.
Burchinal’s co-authors included Martha Zaslow of Child Trends and Louisa Tarullo of Mathematica Policy Research. Their team also found that children appeared to benefit from a larger “dose” of center-based child care.
“Children showed larger gains in academic skills when they attended more than one year of Head Start, had fewer absences, and spent more time in reading and math instruction,” Burchinal said. “Early childhood education is widely accepted as an effective way to improve opportunities for all children, and this finding about Head Start supports the growing trend of two years of publicly funded preschool for children from low-income homes.”
Burchinal explained that unlike most of the Head Start classrooms in her study, some programs do not meet a threshold of quality, offer a second year, or provide sufficient time in math and reading instruction to enable children to make academic gains.
“The lowest quality programs are going to have to change a lot in order for us to likely see the kind of improvement in language and academic skills that provide the foundation for succeeding in school,” Burchinal said. “Children in our study showed the largest gains when teachers interacted with children frequently in engaging activities that were designed to teach those language and academic skills deliberately.”
Burchinal further explained that if lower-quality preschool classrooms do not improve children’s reading and language skills, this could inform the conceptualization and design of publicly funded programs—as well as efforts to improve existing learning opportunities for children. Shifting the field’s current focus from overall quality and instead zeroing in on content may be more effective in promoting children’s academic learning.
Burchinal, Zaslow, and Tarullo published their study, “Quality Thresholds, Features, and Dosage in Early Care and Education: Secondary Data Analyses of Child Outcomes,” in a special monograph for the Society for Research in Child Development.
De la Peña Receives Intellectual Freedom Award
The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) recently honored Matt de la Peña for his courage in standing up for intellectual freedom with the NCTE National Intellectual Freedom Award, given for de la Peña’s efforts to fight censorship not only through his words but also through his actions.
De la Peña, a Newbery Medal-winning author of six young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, The Living, and The Hunted) and two picture books (A Nation’s Hope and Last Stop on Market Street), has worked to ensure that children of all ages have access to books, especially books that are reflections of themselves.