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Ready to Read

Columbus Metropolitan Library

Innovation Leader: Kathy Shahbodaghi, Public Services Administrator, kshahbodagh@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) serves a number of communities where as many as 50% of children entering school are assessed as “not ready” for the kindergarten curriculum by the State of Ohio’s standardized Kindergarten Readiness Assessment – Literacy (KRA-L). 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, CML launched a “Ready to Read Corps” with a team of two fulltime staff who work in a targeted community. They connect with at-risk parents, talk about early literacy skills, provide parents with activities that support the literacy, and model reading aloud to help parents get their children prepared for kindergarten. Corps members work with local agencies in the target community where at risk families spend significant time. Using laptops and a small collection of picture books, Corps staff members interact with parents/caregivers and children while they wait for services. Parents are treated to an on-the-spot workshop or are invited to a formal workshop on a specific date. Every family receives an early literacy kit filled with materials to start working on early literacy at home.

Progress

Due to the success of the first Corps, two more were created in 2010 and three more Corps are in development for 2011. Funding comes from various sources – local foundations, United Way, Chase Bank and CML. The team members are diverse and multilingual, reflecting the communities they serve. Many agencies have signed on as partners, including the Columbus Literacy Council, Help Me Grow and Nationwide Children’s Hospital Visiting Nurse Program. These partners can have their staff trained in Ready to Read skills, have the Corps offer parenting workshops for their clients or find other ways to collaborate. Word of the Corps’ work has spread quickly; the teams are fully scheduled in the community. Families have been overwhelmingly receptive to the Ready to Read message and to date, over 9,800 parents/caregivers have attended a presentation. Through this collaboration, parents are learning what they can do to be their child’s first teacher and help ensure his/her future success.