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"6 by 6, Ready to Read" Early Literacy Program
Johnson County Library
Parents and caregivers most in need of early literacy training are precisely those who will not understand terminology such as “phonological awareness” in Every Child Ready to Read (ECRTR) – nor do they visit libraries. The challenge is to adapt ECRTR to make the language more “user friendly” and easier to understand, to create highly accessible programming and resources based on ECRTR, and to reach at-risk families.
Johnson County Library created “6 by 6, Ready to Read” based on ECRTR’s “six pre-reading skills by age six” and branded it with illustrations by local artist Brad Sneed. The “6 by 6” initiative is comprised of two parts: 1) a program, spaces, and resources in libraries where parents and children interact to learn the skills, and 2) an extensive outreach program, targeting at-risk children and their parents and caregivers at sites such as the waiting list for Head Start, various job training sites, etc. A corresponding Web Page depicts the six skills and 50+ video clips (some in Spanish) of fingerplays performed by library staff members. The “6 by 6” brochure has been translated into Spanish. One area hospital serving low-income families is distributing 5,000 “6 by 6” DVDs to new mothers.
The pilot in-library “6 by 6” program space served at least 28,033 people in its first year, 2010; “6 by 6” programs are being offered at all branches; and 17 thematic kits were developed to support them. In 2010, staff reached 556 parents and caregivers in off-site classes and early childhood conferences, plus 67 preschools. Before-and-after questionnaires revealed that parents and caregivers are now reading more to their children. They increased the time they shared books daily with their children by more than 16%, and 60% of the targeted audience used the “6 by 6” skill cards. Responding parents also increased their number of visits to the library by 14%, increased their discussions with their children about letters and sounds by 12.5%, and increased vocabulary-building activities by 9%. The State Library of Kansas has requested to implement “6 by 6” statewide, and Johnson County Library has agreed.