Researchers have found that early literacy development has a strong correlation with children’s future academic achievement programs (Bowman, Donovan and Burns, 2001; Shonkoff and Phillips, 2000).
[W.H.] Teale (1995) points out that libraries and librarians, working cooperatively with family literacy programs or other community wide programs, may serve children in their homes or in libraries. Teale also suggests that libraries can employ special programs that promote children’s early literacy development or they may distribute materials to be used in homes or child care settings.
One individual who can be a model for providing meaningful interactions between young children and age-appropriate literature is a children’s librarian in a public library.
Parents or caregivers and their children can experience and explore children’s books, rhymes, songs, and imagination activities by attending storytime programs presented at public libraries.
Vocabulary and comprehension, the unconstrained skills, are the foundational skills that children need to become proficient readers. These skills also determine whether children will become proficient learners. As children progress through school, they increasingly use vocabulary and comprehension skills to understand complex texts in all subjects. In other words, they use reading to learn. Libraries have helped many generations of children develop unconstrained reading skills.
Because they serve children for years before they begin school, public libraries have many opportunities to provide early literacy and learning experiences.
Libraries have been working with families for years within and outside of libraries, providing access to print, motivating young children to read, and making connections with schools.
This study investigated how 26 Maryland public librarians were providing early literacy opportunities to young children and their families through their outreach services… All librarians knew the importance of forming home, school, and community partnerships and were working collaboratively among these spheres to help children succeed in school
Schools and community organizations, such as libraries, can serve to support families, as well as provide direct literacy experiences to children and youth that complement family practices (Epstein & Sanders).
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.