Why Ready to Read at New York Libraries

Adapted from 2014 NYLA Conference

Slide 1: Research conducted in 2013 has revealed a need for early literacy skill development in New York State. As a result of this need, the New York State Library is initiating a staff development program, Ready to Read at New York Libraries, to equip public library staff with the knowledge and skills to prepare young children for the school years ahead. 

Slide 2: This presentation will provide background information on child development, early literacy skills, and the importance of public libraries in facilitating early learning. It will also provide an outline of the early childhood public library staff development program that will place libraries as a central support organization for early literacy in their communities

Slide 3: During a child’s first three years, the brain develops 700 neural connections per second, making this the most critical time in shaping brain architecture.

At this rate, 90% of a child’s brain development happens before age 5.

Brain development is "activity-dependent," which means that the electrical activity in every circuit—whether it be motor or cognitive--shapes the way that circuit gets put together.

Slide 4: The elimination of unused neural circuits is known as "pruning," a process that streamlines children's neural processing. As a result, the remaining circuits work more quickly and efficiently.

The focus of early literacy is on strengthening the circuits are needed for success.

Slide 5: A child’s language skills develop from birth, and parents and caregivers are an important part of this equation. Rather than formal teaching, these skills are learned best through everyday moments that a parent or caregiver spends reading books, talking, laughing, singing, and playing with their child.

Slide 6: Parents and caregivers need tools to succeed in their role as first teachers. Their success depends on a coordinated community effort.

Public libraries can provide these tools through the development of early literacy resources and programs. They are also key in linking parents and caregivers with other organizations that can provide additional early learning support.         

Slide 7: Many libraries have wonderful early literacy programs, but the State Library wants ALL libraries to reach that level.

The goal is for public library staff to reach beyond their walls to families with young children in their communities that they don’t already serve. Programming and resources should be expanded to meet the needs of all types of families.

How will we do that?

Slide 8: By positioning public libraries as early literacy community leaders

By providing library staff with training in community assessment, outreach to diverse populations, and early literacy skill development they can serve as “Early Literacy Navigators,” exposing families to rich library resources as well as connecting them to critical services in their communities

Slide 9: The primary goal of Ready to Read at New York Libraries is that all children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.  The State Library is striving to work with Public Library Systems, and their member libraries, to develop resources and to make connections with state agencies that share similar early learning goals.

The creation of this program began with research into early literacy models and the best initiatives in early literacy, such as…

Slide 10: Every Child Ready to Read, which is based on parent/caregiver education; Family Place Libraries which uses library space, coaching and play for early literacy outcomes; and Mother Goose on the Loose which applies learning principles to preschool story times.

All programs are grounded in research and provide models useful in evaluating training for New York State Libraries.

Slide 11: Through lessons learned from this research, Ready to Read at New York Libraries was created to include the development of strategic statewide and local partners, a Training Cohort, delivery of training in multiple formats, integrated evaluation tools, and five Foundation Training Components.

Slide 12: New York is a diverse state of 19.65 million people with over 1,000 library outlets.

Ready to Read at New York Libraries is designed to meet the needs of large urban libraries, such as the Queens Public Library, where 138 languages are spoken by its residents, as well as those of small rural libraries in communities of less than 500 people.

Slide 13: The program will include targeted outreach strategies to assist libraries in reaching families in high-needs school districts and high-risk populations.

Staff development will focus on parent and caregiver education in early literacy skill building; reaching out to underserved populations; creating welcoming library environments for families; and developing partnerships.

Slide 14: There are five Foundation Training Components in this program:

Early Literacy Community Asset Analysis involves gathering information about the library’s community and its demographics to identify new or underserved audiences, such as teen parents, low-income families, or grandparents who serve as caregivers for young children.

Slide 15: Early Learning Spaces teaches library staff how to create an environment in libraries that supports early learning regardless of the library’s size, staffing levels, budgets and community resources;

Using ‘Every Child Ready to Read 2®’ provides a curriculum and materials created by the Public Library Association and Association for Library Service to Children to support parents and caregivers with the early literacy development of their children;

Slide 16: Strategies for Successful Partnerships and Outreach to Families with Young Children focuses on how libraries can best reach families with young children, particularly those most at risk, and

Everyone Serves Families with Young Children, which emphasizes that all library staff deal directly with all library users, even children.

Slide 17: The State Library established a Training Cohort of 30 librarians.

Nationally recognized trainers will train the Training Cohort, who will then train local library staff.

Training will be conducted in a variety of formats.

Face-to-face is still the optimum way to jump-start adult learning. Webinars and well-designed online resources will also be used to help librarians stay current and supplement training.

Slide 18: DayByDayNY is one resource that the Training Cohort will use to get parents engaged with their children in a way that is both educational and fun.

It is an early literacy website designed as a calendar so that young children and their families can explore something new every day.

Slide 19: So, Why Ready to Read at New York Libraries?

Because we want all young children to enter kindergarten with the skills needed for school success.

In order to achieve this, and as a result of the New York State Library’s early childhood public library staff development program, each public library in New York State will be able to offer high quality early learning services to their community.

Slide 20: For additional information, please visit the Ready to Read at New York Libraries website or contact Sharon Phillips.

Last Updated: August 16, 2019 -- sm; for questions or comments, contact Sharon Phillips