Connie Champlin, Consultant
Indiana Library Foundation
Indiana Department of Education
One hundred years of reading research indicates that kids and teens that read a lot score higher on any test they take. In addition, library studies conducted in sixteen states since 2000 show that schools with strong school library programs average 10-20% higher on test scores. Beyond the teacher, the best friend a parent has in boosting a reader of any age is the school and public library. And, best of all, both are free—well, almost—since we pay taxes.
How can you as a parent insure that your child is benefiting from all the resources and support the school and public library has to offer? First, if you don't already have them, sign up for public library cards for the whole family. Set aside a regular time each week to visit the library to select pleasurable reading materials for all family members. At the next school open house or parent conference night, make a special effort to visit your child's classroom teacher and the school librarian. And read to your children. If they are already fluent readers then spend the time reading with your children side by side.
Success in school begins with strong reading skills. Classroom teachers work hard to develop and refine reading skills. School librarians play a critical role in reading development, too. They assist students in finding books that help them delve deeper into curriculum topics or that are of high interest for pleasure reading. Public librarians offer reading support services for the entire family as well as work with school librarians and teachers to provide appropriate learning resources.
Even before your child starts school become regular visitors to your public library. Your public library is a fantastic and FREE resource for books, videos, and other learning materials for children of all developmental stages and ages. From board books and picture books for reading aloud to pre-school children, to chapter books and series books for emerging and developing readers, there is something for everyone at your public library. Check out the story times and special events that are custom-designed for your community's children. Invest in a sturdy canvas bag and take home a load of books each week, creating an ever-changing collection of wonderful stories and marvelous tales to encourage your child's development as a skilled and avid reader.
Visit your school library to see the resources especially selected to support your child's learning needs. Your child's school library collection provides quality materials that support and enhance classroom instruction. Textbooks alone cannot meet all of the content requirements of our state's academic standards. Textbooks, too, are written at a particular graded reading level and typically cover only a surface level summary of any given topic. The library contains books and other learning materials that explore these topics in-depth, as well as provide materials at a variety of reading levels to suit every learner.
Preschool is the perfect time for parents to ensure that their child will be a successful reader, and the library is there to help. Many public and school libraries with preschool story hours don't just tell stories on a regular schedule but also demonstrate for parents many ways to enjoy and care for books with their children. Call or visit your local public library to learn about the story hours and other programs available.
Reading is central to learning. Learning to read will be a more positive experience for children if they have a strong foundation. Research has identified six pre-reading skills children must master in order to learn to read. Parents, as the child's first teacher, can begin teaching these skills to their children at birth.
Repetitive Books - Encourage your child to join in during the repetitions
Predictable Books - Ask, "What do you think happens next?"
Wordless Books - Invite your child to "read" the story in pictures
Sequential Books - Talk about what happened first, second, third...
Rhyming Books -Encourage your child to say the rhymes with you and to make up new rhymes
10 Ways Kids Connect @ The Library. ALA Public Information Office. Brief description of the ways parents can help kids find books and information at the library. Also includes suggestions for how to raise a reader with suggested book titles for ages 6 through 14. < ahref="http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/parentspage/10w ayskidsconnect.htm">http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/parentspage/10w ayskidsconnect.htm
Every Child Ready to Read: Parent Guide to Early Literacy. Public Library Association Early Literacy Project. Brochures for parents, created as part of a national literacy project, may be downloaded at no cost in color or B/W. Titles available include: Early Talker, Newborn to 2 Years; Talker, 2- and 3-Year- Olds; and Pre-Reader, 4- and 5-Year-Olds. http://www.ala.org/ ala/pla/plaissues/earlylit/parentguide-brochures/parentguide.htm
Krashen, Steven. The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research, 2nd ed. Libraries Unlimited, 2004. The author sites numerous research studies in many countries, which provide evidence for the power of free voluntary reading to increase a child's ability to read, write, comprehend, and spell.
Perkinson, Kathryn. Helping Your Child Use the Library. Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education. Free downloadable booklet for parents explaining what library services are available for all age kids. http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Library/index.html
School Library Impact Studies. A review of the impact studies conducted by Dr. Keith Curry Lance linking school libraries to student achievement, http://www.lrs.org/impact.asp
The School Library Media Center: What Parents Should Know. AASL Advocacy Toolkit. Tells parents what to expect from a good school library, http://www.ala.org/ala/aasl/ aaslproftools/toolkits/whatparentsshould.htm
Article reprinted with permission from the author and Indiana Insight, a publication of IUPUI.