Libraries are taking a proactive approach toward engaging parents and caregivers supporting the early literacy development of their children, and the Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) @ your library® Program is an excellent tool to ensure libraries’ success. These were two of the key findings of a study released in November, 2017, by Dr. Susan B. Neuman, a professor of childhood education and literacy development at New York University. Currently more than 6,000 libraries have invested in the ECRR Toolkit, which is used to implement ECRR in the library. ECRR is based on two core concepts: reading begins at birth, and parents are a child’s first and best teacher.
In 2013, the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to conduct a national study on the effect of library programming on parent behavior and engagement using the ECRR model. From 2013-2016, the research team observed and evaluated storytime programs at 57 library branches representing 36 different library systems across the country. From that group, 20 target libraries were selected for the study—ten that were deemed to be strong implementers of the ECRR curriculum, and ten that were not. Neuman et. al. observed significantly greater engagement of parents and caregivers in the libraries that used the ECRR program: these libraries offered more opportunities for parents and children to interact, more parents-only workshops, and more diverse program offerings.
“Although seemingly simple, the ECRR initiative represents a sharp turn in the way many libraries approach children’s services,” the report reads. “Previously, librarians focused their attention primarily on children, not on parent education. Today, librarians see that they can have a greater impact on early literacy by focusing on the primary adults in a child’s life – parents and caregivers.”