New research finds Every Child Ready to Read curriculum leads to successful family engagement through libraries

For Immediate Release
Fri, 11/17/2017


Laurence Deutsch

Manager, Communications

Public Library Association (PLA)

CHICAGO – Libraries are taking a proactive approach toward engaging parents and caregivers in supporting the early literacy development of their children, and the Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® (ECRR) Program is an excellent tool to ensure libraries’ success. These were two of the key findings of a study released this month by Dr. Susan B. Neuman, a professor of childhood education and literacy development at New York University.

ECRR is based on two core concepts: reading begins at birth, and parents are a child’s first and best teacher. Currently more than 6,000 libraries have invested in the ECRR Toolkit, which is used to implement ECRR in the library.

In 2013, the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct a national study on the effect of library programming on parent behavior and engagement using the ECRR model. From 2013-2016, the research team – consisting of Neuman, Naomi Moland, and Donna Celano – observed and evaluated storytime programs at 57 library branches representing 36 different library systems across the country. From that group, 20 target libraries were selected for the study—ten that were deemed to be strong implementers of the ECRR curriculum, and ten that were not. Neuman et. al. observed significantly greater engagement of parents and caregivers in the libraries that used the ECRR program: these libraries offered more opportunities for parents and children to interact, more parents-only workshops, and more diverse program offerings.

““Libraries are emerging as community centers that promote family engagement, thus serving an important mission of fostering school readiness for children in many communities,” the report reads. “Libraries are playing a particularly vital role as resource brokers, helping to connect parents with services and resources, as well as a space for parents and children to work on literacy skills.”

A 2016 survey of city and county managers highlighted early childhood education as one of the top three community priorities in which local government leaders see public libraries playing an important role. ECRR enables libraries of all sizes to better equip families to succeed as early childhood education providers.

 “Our library was an early adopter of Every Child Ready to Read, and we’ve been very happy with the curriculum, resources, and marketing materials that support the program,” says Clara Bohrer, director of the West Bloomfield Township (Mich.) Public Library. “For our staff, ECRR has helped create a ‘springboard’ for new ideas and practices that we use in engaging families and strengthening early literacy programming.”

ECRR is the foundation upon which PLA has established its Family Engagement Initiative. The term “family engagement” refers to the shared responsibility among families, educators, and communities to support children’s learning and development. By implementing ECRR and other family engagement strategies into their programming, PLA encourages its member libraries to form respectful partnerships that offer the information, guidance, and opportunities for families to be active in their children’s learning and development.

“Public libraries across the U.S. are embracing their role as the community’s hub for early literacy,” says PLA Executive Director Barb Macikas. “PLA and our partner, the Association for Library Service to Children, are thrilled to confirm that our Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) @ your library® Program is having the desired effect by helping libraries engage parents and caregivers to be their children’s first, and best, teachers.”

“This report further validates the importance of the early literacy work librarians do every day,” adds ALSC President Nina Lindsay, a children's services librarian at Oakland (Calif.) Public Library. “Our job now is to make sure communities are aware of the strong literacy development available in their neighborhood libraries.”

Click here to download Bringing Literacy Home: An Evaluation of the Every Child Ready to Read Program.

# # #

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext.5PLA, or

ALSC, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit ALSC’s website: