Selecting books for young children can not only be a fun and rewarding experience but also a little daunting, considering the number of books available. Frequent collaboration between myself and a public librarian has produced valuable insights about how to begin reading with very young children.

In an article I wrote for The Reading Teacher in November of 2011, with Nampa, Idaho Children’s Services Librarian Laura Abbott, suggestions are offered for how parents and educators can choose books that will encourage and motivate lifelong readers.

Six research-based areas defined by the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library program provide the framework: vocabulary, narrative connections, print motivation, print awareness, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness. Parents and teachers can evaluate various books based on this model. Our article offers several descriptions of books, and strategies for instruction and engagement are included with each.

Every Child Ready to Read @ your library is a parent education initiative.

Traditionally, early literacy programs at libraries have focused on children. Storytimes and other programs might model strategies that parents can use to develop early literacy skills, but parent education is not typically the primary intent.

The Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) concluded that public libraries could have an even greater impact on early literacy through an approach that focused on educating parents and caregivers. If the primary adults in a child’s life can learn more about the importance of early literacy and how to nurture pre-reading skills at home, the effect of library efforts can be multiplied many times.Teaching parents and other caregivers how to support the early literacy development of their children is the basis of Every Child Ready to Read @ your library. When the first edition of ECRR was introduced in 2004, the focus on educating parents and caregivers was a significantly different approach for many libraries; one that certainly has proven its value.

This updated and expanded second edition of Every Child Ready to Read @ your libraryprovides a new curriculum and materials to continue the effort, supporting parents and caregivers with the early literacy development of their children birth to age five.

According to the American Library Association, the program continues a commitment to research and introduces a powerful concept of constrained and unconstrained skill sets to our conversations with parents and caregivers. The 2nd edition utilizes natural language and a flexible format to encourage a more interactive way for library staff to work with caregivers and to create new ways for parents to interact with their children.

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