Traditionally, emergent storybook reading and emergent writing in the home have been seen as the major site of literacy development (Sulzby, 1991), however because so many children are in preschool situations and because so many families have [Limited English Proficiency], more emphasis is being put on the need for literacy development at out-of-the-home settings.
Impact on Reading and Literacy
In this context [Nespeca , 1995], library outreach programs gain essential importance serving those who do not have the opportunity to use the libraries on site. The fact that library outreach programs are important for the people living in public housing homes is clearly stated in Kinney’s (1996) Ph.D. thesis and this naturalistic inquiry reveals that story mobile service has significant positive effects on children’s emergent literacy skills in these homes.
Libraries are places that are free to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, language, or age. They are open to the public 7 days a week. Because low socio-economic and minority children are at risk in term of early literacy development and because books and literacy materials are less accessible to poor parents and their children, public libraries’ role as a free, public provider becomes even more vital to meeting this population’s demands for literacy materials and support.
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.