As children’s librarians, in addition to providing resources, we are in a unique position to run programs for parents or caregivers and children that help build the preliteracy skills underlying school readiness.
To enhance literacy development, it is imperative that children interact with a rich variety of print resources and respond with reading and writing.
Readiness for academic tasks has become a high priority for public schools serving low-income, underserved populations as a result of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation.
The [author’s] study took place in a Midwestern county with a population of approximately 120.000… Poverty level of the county was 12% and this level even goes higher for under the age of 18 year old children, 14.1%. Approximately 15.000 children were enrolled in K-12 schools in 1999. 30% of these children were eligible for free or reduced fee lunch program (CAPE,2007). These data show that, at-risk children’s number is high enough not to be ignored. These children should be ready for school and public libraries may play a vital role in this process.
“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.”
Parents, almost unanimously, reported that their children enjoyed the program, and afterwards continued to talk about the experience at home. Most parents felt the hands-on projects were the best part of the session; some also mentioned the effective link of books to activities, as well as the positive social aspects of the program.
For each of the four topics, the Vermont Center for the Book has amassed an extensive, multifaceted bibliography of children’s picture books, a long list of related projects and activities, suggestions for independent discovery centers, and a selection of recommended resources and manipulatives.
A feature of the program as a whole is its devotion to the principles of scientific and mathematical investigation. The key is personal acts of discovery. “What’s the Big Idea?” emphasizes child-directed, hands-on exploration rather than adult-mediated instruction. Direction is provided in the form of open-ended, curiosity-provoking questions…
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.
The availability of many titles meant children could explore their own interests and develop a sense of reading as an enjoyable activity. Asking for specific books and requesting help from the librarian was one way to claim competence as a reader and as a learner.