Children and Caregivers

Outcome statement: Young children and their parents and caregivers, and school age children, feel part of a community of readers and library users.

Most libraries now provide regular opportunities for children from infancy through their preschool years to develop early literacy skills through developmentally appropriate storytimes.  Because parents and caregivers are a child’s first teachers, public libraries encourage these adults to take an active part in their early childhood programming.  Through initiatives like Every Child Ready to Read, libraries provide parents and caregivers with the skills they need to ensure that the young children in their charge are ready to read when they start school.  Parents and caregivers tell us that their small children like having their game cards filled out when they come to the library.  It makes them feel like the “big kids.”

Children from six to ten probably make up the largest number of participants in summer reading programs.  This is the age when they are eager to master new skills and knowledge, and the summer reading program or challenge enables them to do this.  Many children in the elementary grades like the idea of being part of a group of peers; this is the age when many gravitate to clubs and teams of various kinds.  The library can be a place where they feel they belong.

This is also the time when children are acquiring the skills and habits that will determine whether they identify as readers.  Libraries can contribute to their development as competent, engaged readers.  Those children who don’t make the transition to fluency in reading are at risk for mastering subject content which is the focus of curriculum after third grade.  Summer is also a critical time in which children without access to books area vulnerable to backsliding, losing the literacy skills they acquired during the school year. [1] Public libraries play an important role in helping children maintain their reading fluency during the summer months when school is not in session.  Research on summer reading loss shows that children in high-poverty schools are particularly vulnerable to falling behind in reading achievement when during the months they are out of school.[2]

[1] Fay H. Shin and Stephen D. Krashen.  Summer Reading: Program and Evidence.  Boston:Pearson, 2008, p. xi.

[2] Richard L. Allington and Anne McGIlle-Franzen.  “Summer Reading Loss” in Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap.  New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, pp. 1-19.