The public library provides an interactive free place for parents and their young children to enjoy the written and spoken word, aided by library staff skilled in early literacy techniques that parents can then replicate at home.
Supporting Impact Statements
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
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.
In fact, multiple resources were mentioned as ways to find books and materials, including public libraries… Children discussed their favorite texts at length and in detail, sometimes making intertextual connections between a book and the film rendition, at other times listing favorite genres, series, and authors.
In family programs at some public libraries, parents are given books to read aloud to their children during the actual sessions. Peer pressure and gentle librarian encouragement inspires them to share the book with their child, even if it is not something that they routinely do at home. However, the hope is that after doing it week after week at the public library, they will grow accustomed to book-sharing behavior and begin reading aloud to their child at home also. Some libraries allow the parents to keep the books, increasing the likelihood that they will continue reading aloud to their child at home.
Librarians can help parents and caregivers by making available quality books on parenting and appropriate children’s literature, such as lullaby and song books, Mother Goose rhymes, and books showing objects, patterns, and other stimuli. Librarians can also encourage parents and caregivers to talk, sing, and read to their infants.
Libraries are well acquainted with the fact that preschool storybook reading experience is positively correlated with the development of a wide range of language and literacy abilities in young children. Furthermore, it is very common for libraries to provide in-house storybook reading programs at the library or to run outreach programs aimed at families…; child care professionals or preschool teachers…; or others in the community. Outreach projects typically seek to reach children directly through read-aloud programs or to educate parents, preschool teachers, or child care professionals in what and how to read to preschoolers.
[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.
The free-flowing nature of the library also allowed for parents to actively participate in their children’s reading. Noting the lack of literacy programs available for children at the shelter and in the community, one mother talked about the public library as being the place she could take her children to support their literacy development.
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).
Library attendance served as a springboard for parents to communicate messages about the expectations that they had for their children as readers.
For this family, the library facilitated parent-child bonds. The mother also saw it as a safe place for developing a love for books. She was acting as the one with knowledge who was supporting her child’s literacy growth.
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.
As parents watch a skilled librarian model reading to enthralled little ones, they learn how to modulate voice tones and add variety to the way words are used in order to attract children to a love of story time and books.
Public library programs offer wonderful opportunities for promoting school-readiness skills in children and creating positive associations with books while showing parents how important these skills are and how to reinforce them at home.
Basic Service: Story time for preschoolers. Promotes: Hearing language, being read aloud to, socialization, cognitive development for building later learning, modeling reading aloud and interaction for parents and caregivers, reading motivation, playing with language. Best Practice: Parent training and mentoring. Promotes: Socialization, language-skill building, book selection, motivation, joy of reading. Best Practice: Programming with families. Promotes: Lifelong use of library, motivation, parent/child interaction, independent reading, access to materials, early/emergent literacy. Best Practice: Child-care provider training and mentoring. Promotes: Early/emergent literacy, book selection, motivation, joy of reading, playing with language.
Two conditions found essential for creating a reader are (1) an early environment that offers literary experience, that is, a print-filled environment (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.), and adults reading these materials, and (2) a caring adult to introduce the child to literary pleasure. The public library meets both requirements