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Our Children are Ready for Reading

Pierce County Library System
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Innovation Leader: Judy Nelson, Director of Youth Services, jnelson@piercecountylibrary.org

Problem Statement

A large population of young children are in the care of in-home child care providers for a significant portion of their early lives. Home child care providers work from their homes, work very long hours, and often work alone or with one assistant. This makes it difficult not only for them to attend trainings, but for libraries to reach out to them as a group. However, it is imperative that the child care providers are knowledgeable about the best early literacy practices so children in their care will be ready to read once they begin school.

Innovation

Pierce County Library System, sought to find an effective technique to train providers to produce measurable results in children’s literacy. Staff created a literacy kit and provided literacy training. In partnership with researchers at the University of Washington iSchool and funded through a grant from the Boeing Corporation, the Library replicated a study done by the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland. The study set up an experimental group and a control group of home child care providers. Library staff conducted a field tested Early Literacy Skills assessment on all the three and four year old children in both groups. The experimental group of providers then attended a four-hour early literacy training and were given a large literacy kit filled with play materials, games, and art materials. During a four-month period, the experimental group received detailed newsletters with activity suggestions on how to use the kit materials in fun ways to develop the early literacy skills of their children. Then they received a two-hour follow up training for feedback and enriched learning. All children in both groups were then assessed once more with the Early Learning Skills assessment. The results were sent to the researchers for analysis and the control group has begun the training and newsletter portion and has received their literacy kits. Fifteen child care providers completed the grant cycle and 94 four and five year old children were assessed.

Progress

Preliminary data from the researchers at the University of Washington iSchool show statistically significant gains at the 99.9% level of confidence in concepts about print, alphabetic principles, and phonological awareness by the children in the experimental group, but not in the control group. These last two skills have been cited as the most predictive of reading success by the National Early Literacy Panel report. Researchers are compiling the final statistical report for review in May.