|Casper Journal Articles
From the Natrona County Public Library
What is Emergent Literacy?
By Jerry Jones, Youth Services Coordinator
January 23, 2008
If you visit the library on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings, you are sure to notice the pitter-patter of little feet. That’s because it’s storytime: thirty minutes of stories, fingerplays and a room full of excited preschoolers and their parents or caregivers.
You may know that storytimes have been offered by your library for many years. What you may not realize is the potential impact storytime has on the lives of these children, and the role libraries have in helping preschoolers prepare to read and write.
In 2004, the Public Library Association (PLA), the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), both divisions of the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released “Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library.” This study confirmed that while parents and caregivers serve as a child’s primary source of learning, libraries also play an integral part in the education of preschoolers, through their focus on emergent literacy.
The study cites six early-literacy skills children should enter kindergarten with: vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness. Books read during storytimes are selected with these skills in mind.
For example, when we follow the text of the book with our hand in the left to right reading pattern, we are emphasizing print motivation. Rhyming & musical books help to reinforce phonological awareness. Talking about what is happening in the story increases narrative skills. Storytime also allows us to model reading aloud to parents, grandparents and caregivers who can help their little ones further develop these skills at home.
Sharing books with children as young as infancy helps them to learn that books and reading are fun, encouraged through the library’s weekly “Tiny Tot Times.” Simple concepts such as flipping through the pages, pretend reading, saying words while looking at a page with print, and reading silently are behaviors that help young children develop emergent literacy skills.
The library has a multitude of board books and predictable books appropriate for developing emergent literacy; as well as concept books that can be used to introduce the ABC’s and 123’s.
Many libraries nationwide are going beyond storytimes and books to provide play areas that reinforce emergent literacy and stimulate the interests and developmental needs of children. These areas encourage parent/child interaction during library visits. They also allow librarians to promote books and activities directly related to the literacy building blocks each child needs to develop. These include gross and fine motor skills, creativity, problem solving, and sensory stimulation.
Your library currently supports some of these needs through regular storytimes and periodic family programs like the annual “Read Across America” festival to be held March 3 in celebration of the beloved Dr. Seuss.
However, as the library board works toward creating a new library building to better serve our community, the Youth Services department looks forward to introducing comfortable spaces for parent-child interaction, as well as activity areas to stimulate children’s interests while meeting key developmental needs.
Those pitter-pattering feet you hear each week don’t just signify that children are about, but that they are learning and growing, developing important literacy skills at their library!
Back to Table of Contents