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Ready to Read Corps

Columbus Metro Library

Innovation Leader: Kathy Shahbodaghi, PSD Administrator, Youth & Teen Services, kshahbodagh@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

In a number of communities served by the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), as many as 50% of children entering school are assessed as “not ready” for the kindergarten curriculum by the standardized Kindergarten Readiness Assessment – Literacy (KRA-L) administered to all kindergartners in the State of Ohio. Children in these communities typically come from low income families.

Innovation

CML has taken the early literacy program Every Children Ready to Read @Your Library into targeted neighborhoods where KRA-L scores are especially low. Funded by a grant from the United Way, we launched a “Ready to Read Corps” with a team of two fulltime staff to work in a targeted community, connecting with at risk parents, talking about early literacy skills, providing parents with activities that support the 6 skills and modeling reading aloud to help parents get their children prepared for kindergarten. Corps members work with agencies in the target community such as Department of Job and Family Services Welcome Centers, food pantries, WIC offices and pediatric centers where at risk families spend significant time. With laptops and a small collection of picture books, Corps staff set up in the waiting room of these sites, interacting with parents and children around books while they are waiting. Parents are treated to an on the spot workshop, or are invited to a formal workshop on a specific date. Attendees are given an early literacy kit filled with 3 books, puppets, paper, crayons and Ready to Read booklet to start working on early literacy at home.

Progress

Although the Corps members have only been working in the target community since mid November, initial results have been very promising. Agency staff welcome this initiative, and several have officially signed on as partners, including the Columbus Literacy Council. CLC staff will be trained in Ready to Read and parent workshops will be offered to all attendees at adult literacy classes. Word of the Corps’ work has spread very quickly and the team is fully scheduled, between agency visits, formal workshops and agency staff training. Families have been overwhelming receptive to the Ready to Read message and to date, over 149 parents/caregiver have attended a Ready to Read workshop. All parents want their children to succeed; many just need help to learn what they can do to be their child’s first teacher.

A brand new grant will allow CML to launch a second Ready to Read Corps in an additional neighborhood in early May.