Policy Resource

Maryland Libraries Promote Early Literacy

Feb 9, 2016

Maryland libraries are transforming how they interact with families.

Moving beyond traditional story times and other activities directed at children, libraries are implementing an approach to promoting early literacy that focuses on educating parents and caregivers. Utilizing the evidence-based curriculum Every Child Ready to Read @ your library, librarians are teaching adults about the importance of early literacy and how to nurture children’s pre-reading skills. The Library Partnership, a collaboration of the Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland Association of Public Library Administrators (MAPLA), provides training and technical assistance to librarians statewide to help them implement the curriculum with fidelity.

Funds from the state’s Race to the Top: Early Learning Challenge grant supported the work from 2011 to 2015. The number of libraries participating in the program grew from five to eighteen over that period. As a result, parent attendance at libraries increased, and feedback about the welcoming climate and useful resources was very positive.

The impact of the project continues. As of December 2015, 28 Library Parent Cafés have been held, and 16 libraries have created Family Resource/Parent Information Centers. The Library Partnership has improved the quality of parents’ interactions with library staff; increased the frequency of children and families’ engagement with libraries, including obtaining library cards for children; and encouraged families to take greater advantage of other social services in their communities.

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