Volume 26, Number 4, Winter 2004


Connecticut Libraries... It's Never Too Early

by Susan Cormier, Connecticut State Library

One of the most sobering facts to emerge from the many recent reports and commissions on early reading success is that:

Children who fall behind in first grade have a one in eight chance of ever catching up to grade level without extraordinary efforts 1.

This finding has fueled nationwide early literacy efforts to provide children with essential pre-reading skills before they enter school. Building on programs developed by the Public Library Association and the Maryland State Library, the Connecticut State Library has created an initiative called "Connecticut Libraries... It's Never Too Early." The initiative will provide research-based training, program support, statewide publicity, and grant opportunities for early literacy work.

The state library launched this program with research-based training for Children’s Services librarians. Designed by Dr. Anne Fowler, Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratory, the workshop, "A Research-based Approach to Supporting Preschool Language and Literacy in Public Libraries," had the following goals:

  • To identify what preschoolers need to know to become successful readers;
  • To develop and monitor research-based strategies for story hour;
  • To model early literacy strategies to parents and care-givers; and
  • To communicate the value of library preschool programs to administrators, town officials and educators.
One hundred and ninety one librarians from 128 libraries attended this training.

Other activities of this project will include:

  • Encouraging librarians to explicitly include the six preschool skills that prepare children for reading in their story hour programs;
  • Offering training on researched based early literacy programs, such as the Public Library Association’s “Every Child Ready To Read @ Your Library”;
  • Creating a database of story hour programs focused on these skills;
  • Using electronic forums to share experiences and resources;
  • Producing publicity materials to draw attention to the emergent literacy resources and programs that public libraries provide for young families; and
  • Providing grant opportunities for model library programs and program evaluation.
For more information, contact Susan Cormier.

Reference

1. Connie Juel, Learning to Read and Write in One Elementary School (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994).