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Storyville: Early Learning Literacy Centers

Baltimore County Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Marisa Conner, Youth Services Coordinator, mconner@bcpl.net

Problem Statement

In 2004-05, only 65% of children entering kindergarten in Baltimore County were rated as “fully ready” on a composite score of the Work Sampling System which tests school readiness skills in young children with only 55% rated as “fully ready” in the areas of Language and Literacy. A child’s level of language and literacy skills is the single greatest indicator of later learning success. Parents and early child care providers need resources that help them understand school readiness skills and provide models of activities and experiences for developing those skills. Baltimore County Public Library recognized the need to increase access for very young children to materials and programs that foster emergent literacy and appropriate development to help children enter school ready to learn. Research clearly shows that a child’s experiences during the first years of life are a powerful determinant of later success. “Reading to young children promotes language acquisition and correlates with literacy development and, later on, with achievement in reading comprehension and overall success in school.” (American’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2000)

Innovation

Storyville @ Rosedale, an interactive early learning and literacy center funded by the Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library, opened in 2008 at the Rosedale branch for children ages birth to five. Storyville offers activities that help children, through interactive play with their caregivers, gain the skills they need to enter school ready to learn. The 2,900 square-foot child-sized village includes developmentally appropriate books, materials and activities for children, ages birth to five, to use interactively with adults. The environments and activities in Storyville are designed for parents and caregivers to help their young children enter Kindergarten with the skills they need for school success.

In addition to providing information and literacy materials, we provide hands-on experiential learning opportunities for parents/caregivers as they play, read and learn with their children in a fun, interactive and literacy-rich environment. The activities in Storyville are designed to support the skills identified in the Maryland Model for School Readiness. By supporting this model we join other community agencies in providing a consistent, statewide approach to enhancing school readiness. And Storyville is a free service. A child's level of language and literacy skills is the single greatest indicator of later learning success, and the library has an important role in the community ensuring access to programs and services that support reading and learning for children.

Progress

In its first year of operation Storyville @ Rosedale recorded over 76,000 visits. Based on its overwhelming success, Baltimore County government agreed to fund the construction of another Storyville on the opposite side of Baltimore County. Storyville @ Woodlawn opened March 1 and has recorded 2,055 visits in its first 11 days of operation.