Partner with Public Libraries
As we engage in promoting community literacy, our first-choice partner should be our local public library. Libraries level the playing field. They provide free access to their print and digital collections, as well as reference services. Libraries are our “literacy equalizer” and “social safety net” (Farmer, 2021) because they are open to all, and offer the resources we need to live, learn, and thrive.
School libraries have an added dimension in that they are likely to be in sync with the curriculum in the grades and subject areas within a school. That partnership with the instructional staff means that school librarians are a valuable resource for targeted learning. Access to books and academic success go hand in hand. High-achieving schools tend to have rich and extensive library collections—staffed by professional librarians—and more students who read frequently.
Indeed, research known as the “school library impact studies” has consistently shown positive correlations between high-quality library programs and student achievement (Gretes, 2013). Data from more than 34 statewide studies demonstrates that in schools with strong library programs, students score higher on standardized tests, meet academic standards, and enjoy higher graduation rates.
But most of all, with rare exceptions, public libraries are our source of the most extensive collection of books in our communities, curated and cared for by those most knowledgeable—professional librarians!
Partner with Bookelicious
Bookelicious blends research on reading motivation, expert curation by teachers and librarians, and personalization enabled by artificial intelligence, to match readers with books they truly want to read. Bookelicious.com works like a personal librarian, matching readers with a curated collection of topic-specific, high-quality, age-appropriate books at the right level of difficulty. The site makes recommended books easily accessible by offering them for sale as well as linking to local libraries. Bookelicious has also developed special tools for teachers, students, and parents/caregivers that encourage deep engagement with the site and track students’ reading progress, including fun, book-themed games and activities. This level of home-school integration has become even more vital as schools incorporate distance learning into their programs. Bookelicious also offers special collections that celebrate diversity and promote social-emotional learning, to meet the needs of educators and families.
Our Bring Me A Book Legacy Collection
The Bring Me A Book Legacy Collection—Infant, Toddler, and PreK—is informed by our 30-plus Book Buddies reading aloud to hundreds of children over multiple years. These are the books that they found that most engaged the youngest children. Additionally, our Literature Selection Committee—Dr. JaNay Brown-Wood, Dr. Lester Laminack, Dr. Lopez-Robertson, and Dr. Lisa Pinkerton—made many helpful suggestions. You can purchase books from the Bring Me A Book collection on Bookelicious.
Partner with FIRST BOOK
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children in under-resourced communities. First Book works closely with leading businesses, nonprofits, and individuals to promote equal access to quality education for children in need.
“Only the rarest kind of best in anything can be good enough for the young.” -Walter de le Mare
In their seminal article, “What Reading Does for the Mind,” Keith Stanovich and Anne Cunningham remind us that the most of a child’s vocabulary develops indirectly through language exposure, rather than directly, as a consequence of being taught the meanings of words. What’s more, researchers agree that the primary difference between individual variations in students’ vocabulary has to do with their exposure to text and reading volume. That’s because oral language, compared to written, is lexically impoverished. Students encounter much richer language, replete with rare words, in the pages of authentic literature than they do in conversation with their friends and families or through television. Rich, vibrant language is readily available in text—but when children are without access to books, it’s more challenging for them to tap enriched literary language. And living without easy access to books, in turn, makes it more challenging for children to understand texts that are more sophisticated, which can lead to a downward spiral in their reading prowess.
Students who read have a profound advantage, simply in the sheer exposure they gain to sophisticated words. “The average child at the 90th percentile reads almost two million words per year outside of school—more than 200 times more words than the child at the 10th percentile, who reads just 8,000 words outside of school during a year. In other words, the entire year’s out-of-school reading for the child at the 10th percentile amounts to just two days of reading for the child at the 90th percentile. These dramatic differences, combined with the lexical richness of print, act to create large vocabulary differences between children.”