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Emergent Readers Program

Dallas Public Library, TX
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Innovation Summary

The Dallas Public Library’s Emergent Readers program is a parent-focused intervention program for struggling readers in Kindergarten through third grade. In conjunction with the library’s existing Born to Read and Every Child Ready to Read @ Dallas programs, the Emergent Readers program completes the library’s early childhood intervention initiatives

Problem Statement

Since 2005, the Dallas Public Library has conducted off-site early literacy workshops in partnership with women’s health clinics through its Born to Read program. In 2007, the library launched its Every Child Ready to Read @ Dallas program which has conducted hundreds of parent workshops and distributed thousands of children’s books throughout the community in partnership with local elementary schools and childcare facilities. As a result of library staff being out in the community, the Dallas Public Library received requests for information and resources for helping older kids. In 2011-2012, the library created a program to meet the demand. After researching existing reading intervention programs, techniques and strategies, the Library partnered with Dallas Independent School District’s Media Services Director to recruit schools and families to participate in a pilot program in fall 2011. The program’s initial success helped the Dallas Public Library garner the support of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission which awarded funds to expand to more schools and reach more children. To date, the program has conducted Emergent Reader parent workshops at 33 Dallas elementary schools and has reached nearly 800 parents and children. The Emergent Readers program is a model for successful public and school librarian partnerships and our joint efforts to affect K-12 education in Dallas.


The Emergent Readers program was a result of library staff listening to the community’s needs and responding to them. Sometimes the most straightforward concepts can be the most innovative. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the Emergent Readers program builds upon the successful Every Child Ready to Read @ Dallas parent workshop model to address the needs of struggling readers and equip parents with concrete ideas to help their child at home. The program partners with school librarians at Dallas elementary schools who work with teachers, counselors and community liaisons to identify and recruit parents of struggling readers and ensure a captive and targeted audience. The public library provides the facilitator, the presentation, free books, simple, user-friendly handouts, parent surveys and follow-up phone calls to participants. By creating a program based on expressed community needs, using a proven model to build on, and partnering with school librarians, the Emergent Readers program proves that simple can be successful when working together.


As a result of the 2011-2012 pilot program at 10 schools, 89% of the participating students demonstrated improvement in words correctly read per minute (WCPM), and 65% of parents reported reading more with their children. To date, the program has conducted Emergent Reader parent workshops at 33 Dallas elementary schools and has reached nearly 800 parents and children. Pre-workshop surveys and post-workshop surveys are administered to all parents attending the Emergent Reader workshops. Ninety-nine percent indicated they were very satisfied with the information, tips and material they received; 95% agreed that they were more knowledgeable of specific literacy skills and how to teach them at home; 97% indicated they were more confident in helping their child improve their reading at home; and 98% agreed that they were more motivated to read with their child at home. In addition to equipping parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to help their struggling reader at home, the Emergent Readers program has strengthened the Dallas Public Library’s relationship with school librarians and offers librarians a concrete way to affect education in Dallas. One result is in educating parents on how to approach their child's teacher to stay informed on their child's progress. The program targets ways to open up communication between parents and teachers. As a result of this program, three of the campuses subsequently registered to have the Every Child Ready to Read @ Dallas workshop series also conducted at their schools.