In 2008, a joint ALA/PLA Task Force was created to evaluate the 1st Edition of Every Child Ready to Read @ your library (ECRR). In 2009, Dr. Susan Neuman and Dr. Donna Celano, leading educators and researchers in the field of early literacy, were commissioned to evaluate the program in order to:
- Measure the impact of Every Child Ready to Read and evaluate whether to make changes based on feedback from surveys, as well as interviews of users and non-users.
- Conduct an extensive literature review and determine whether ECRR workshops should be modified based on current research.
- Make recommendations about updating workshops.
After a careful review of the evaluation, the ALSC/PLA Task Force recommended that Dr. Neuman be selected to update the ECRR curriculum by incorporating new research and suggestions from both users and non-users of the 1st Edition of ECRR. The result is the new and expanded second edition of Every Child Ready to Read @ your library.
Lessons from ECRR 1st Edition
The evaluation conducted by Dr. Neuman and Dr. Celano found that ECRR was well regarded and considered to be a high-quality product that has an impact on parent behavior. The evaluation found that ECRR was successful in its goal of educating parents and caregivers at libraries and through outreach. Both users and nonusers regarded the materials as well done, and library staff appreciated the training that had been developed for presenters. Those surveyed credited ECRR with reinforcing the public perception of libraries as an early literacy resource. They also said that ECRR provided a chance to strengthen existing and forge new partnerships with community organizations that support early literacy and learning.
Recommendations incorporated into ECRR 2nd Edition
The evaluation of the first edition of ECRR revealed opportunities to create an even stronger curriculum. The second edition incorporates the following recommendations from the evaluation:
- Workshops are based on updated literature reviews and research.
- Workshops and materials use less educational jargon.
- Workshops present strategies for developing pre-reading skills within the framework of five early literacy practices: singing, talking, reading, writing, and playing. These practices are familiar to parents and caregivers, which makes them easy to use and integrate into everyday life.
- The five practices reflect research that says not all reading skills are equal. Some skills, such as learning letter names are "constrained." Once a child learns the name of the letter "A" and recognizes its different forms, he or she doesn't need to learn any more about that letter name. Other skills are "unconstrained," such as vocabulary. Learning the meaning of words is something that continues through life.
- ECRR 2nd Edition emphasizes the importance of vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension, which are the unconstrained skills that children continue to learn throughout their school years.
- The importance of a stimulating learning environment also is highlighted. Children learn early literacy skills by interacting with adults and also by interacting with their physical surroundings. Attributes of supportive early literacy and learning environments are described.
- Much of the workshop content applies to children from birth to age five, since the five early literacy practices can be used with children of different ages.
- Workshop content is provided throughout PowerPoint presentations. The presentations include talking points rather than a script for workshop presenters. The talking points help guide the presentation, discussion, and activities.
- Workshop formats are modular, which provides great flexibility. Workshops can be combined to expand the content and extend the learning experience. Presenters have the option to incorporate or substitute different activities based on their resources and audience. PowerPoints also can be customized with photos and other information specific to a library.
- Handouts that correlate to the five early literacy practices and booklists for each practice are provided as PDFs or Word documents.
ECRR 2nd Edition is based on the same principles as the first edition.
The beliefs underlying the second edition of ECRR remain the same.
- Reading is an essential life skill.
- Learning to read begins at birth.
- Parents and caregivers are a child's first and best teachers.
- Lifelong learning is a primary role of the public library; public libraries need to support parents and caregivers as they develop early literacy skills in children from birth to age five.
- Every Child Ready to Read is a parent education initiative that provides skills and strategies parents and caregivers can use to help children get ready to read.