The purpose of this evaluation was to examine the Every Child Ready to Read program, a parent education initiative. Based on the assumption that libraries can be an integral part of the educational community, the program was designed to use tested, research-based materials to help families and caregivers make a difference in preparing their children for successful reading achievement.
The evaluation conducted an extensive literature review on latest research in early literacy development. It highlighted the skills of letter name knowledge, phonological awareness, concepts of print—acquired early on, as well as skills that are associated with longer-term success in reading, vocabulary, comprehension, and background knowledge. It also described key best practices used in exemplary early literacy programs throughout the country, and described areas that might aid in updating current ECRR parent workshops for the future.
Five surveys were developed to measure the impact of the ECRR initiative and to tap the beliefs and practices of different constituencies within the library community: Directors and children’s librarians, participants in training, state librarians, graduate library programs, as well as those who had decided not to use the materials. Placed on Survey Monkey, the survey included open-ended and closed responses. Focus groups were also conducted to obtain qualitative responses to the initiative.
Results indicated both successes and challenges in the implementation of the initiative. The program was very successful and had great appeal to many users who have been seeking better efforts to reach out to parents. The materials were well received and regarded of high quality. Many participants appreciated the training that accompanied the materials. Overall, ECRR participants appreciated the impact the program has generated for the library community as well as the relationships and linkages it helped to establish to other educational institutions.
There were challenges, however, in the implementation of the program. Common responses included the cost, difficulties associated with the recruitment, retention, and the level of engagement of parents in the program. Some clearly questioned its relevance to their mission, indicating that other priorities took precedence. Others were not aware of the initiative, suggesting that further efforts are needed to enhance the visibility of this important program. Based on respondents’ comments in surveys and focus groups, a series of recommendations for potential revisions and clarifications are made. Susan B. Neuman University of Michigan Donna Celano LaSalle University