Librarians empower parents to put kids on a path to reading.
Children don’t need to wait until they go to school to learn their ABCs. In fact, research shows that literacy gets a big boost when parents begin preparing their kids to read before kindergarten enrollment. So librarians, armed with materials from their associations, are helping parents to be their kids’ first teachers.
Created by the Public Library Association and Association for Library Service to Children, the Every Child Ready to Read program gives librarians guidance for educating parents in nurturing prereading skills in their children.
Librarians participating in the program “are empowering parents as their child’s first and best teacher, and that learning begins at play as soon as the child is born,” ALSC President Betsy Orsburn says.
Parents often take their children to the public library for a story time or sing-along, and during these visits librarians can model and share tips about how reading aloud helps early literacy development. Every Child Ready to Read, a Summit Award winner in the 2016 ASAE Power of A Awards competition, makes this process easier by providing librarians with toolkits—essentially “a lesson plan that’s been pulled together for you”—covering what to share with parents, like which books to read and discuss.
“When we started it, we were trying to impress to the general public how important early literary—reading aloud, singing to your children, talking to your children, letting them scribble and write, and just playing with books everywhere—was,” Orsburn says.
When the project began in 2000, the goal was to determine how to harness the value of librarians and their work with young children. Research conducted as part of the project demonstrated the importance of teaching prereading skills to children under age four, so the program was shaped to target parents of children in this range. At the time, many existing library programs focused on children five and older.
“The need to pack more information in [for kids age] zero to four became so critical,” Orsburn says. The first toolkit, released in 2004, was created specifically to enable librarians to share this information with parents and caregivers through presentations on early literacy.
A second toolkit was released in Spanish and English in 2011 to update the original workshops and lessons with new findings. Every Child Ready to Read continues to support research on early child development and the role of reading and singing in developing literacy skills.