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Bringing Books to Life!

Nashville Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Elyse Adler, Research and Special Projects Administrator, elyse.adler@nashville.gov

Problem Statement

School readiness has consistently been a priority in Nashville and is one of the top priorities for the state of Tennessee. The first five years of life are a time of enormous social-emotional, physical and cognitive growth. Research has shown that the level of school readiness skills is vastly improved by providing literacy activities such as: reading aloud, teaching letters/words/numbers, teaching songs or music, doing arts and crafts; and visiting a library.

Innovation

Bringing Books to Life! (BBTL) is a free preschool literacy program created by Nashville Public Library together with early childhood educators. Based upon a whole-child approach to learning and developed around the Library’s unique 70-year tradition of literature-based marionette shows, BBTL partners with early childhood programs in Metropolitan Nashville to provide high-quality educational programming for teachers, children, and families. BBTL offers interactive in-service trainings for teachers, story times and puppet shows for children at their centers via the “Puppet Truck,” and family literacy celebrations that encourage future library use. Existing BBTL partners have the opportunity to register for additional puppet shows and story times. In FY 07-08, BBTL launched its family literacy workshop initiative, “Loving & Learning.” Through these 45-minute workshops, BBTL staff educates parents and caregivers about the library’s resources and models ways to incorporate literacy into their children’s everyday lives. BBTL is funded through donations to and the fundraising efforts of Nashville Public Library Foundation.

Progress

Since becoming a full-time program in January 2005, BBTL has partnered with 140 sites, training over 960 teachers and serving over 500 classrooms. At first-time visits to new sites, BBTL has served 6100 children. Through follow-up services at existing partner sites, BBTL has served over 26,000 children. 92% of existing partners have requested follow-up services, a testament to BBTL’s success. Teachers who participate in BBTL’s in-service trainings report an increase in literature-based themes in the classroom as well as utilizing the library as a classroom resource. Parents who participate in BBTL’s “Loving & Learning” family literacy workshops report an increase in library use and at-home story time.