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Insider Article [January 2013] [01/08/13] (Every Child Ready to Read at LAPL)
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Interest Group Spotlight

Los Angeles Public Library’s youth services librarians partner with local schools, early education centers, and community groups to offer Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR2) training to parents and caregivers. In fall 2011, freelance investigators Cindy Mediavilla and Natalie Cole were hired to assess the effectiveness of the early literacy workshops. The project took six months and was the first formal review of the then recently revised ECRR2.

The investigators observed and evaluated introductory and follow-up workshops in six neighborhoods to see how well ECRR2 helps adults prepare their children to read. They also noted whether the workshops did a good job of introducing participants to the library. Focus groups and surveys were conducted to get input from workshop attendees. Feedback was also solicited from LAPL’s youth services librarians.

A total 170 adults attended the workshops, with a third of these participating in both the introductory and follow-up sessions. Eighty-five percent of attendees indicated they learned that “children need help getting ready to read,” while 84% said they now knew how to help their children prepare “to learn in school.” Some folks who participated in both workshops did change their early literacy behaviors, saying they now help their children get ready to read by playing with them, singing with them, reviewing colors, and saying words—all techniques learned in the introductory workshop.

Parents also seemed very interested in the library and appreciated its role in helping their children read. In fact, 94% of workshop attendees indicated they believe the library is important in preparing “children to become successful readers.” A word of caution here, however: as the librarians reported, an interest in the library does not necessarily translate into regular visits. Indeed, very few of the workshop participants said they visited the library after attending the first workshop.

Despite often challenging circumstances (e.g., young children running around), the workshops themselves were very well received.  Most attendees were attentive and especially enjoyed interaction with the librarians. The most engaging workshops were conducted by friendly presenters who shared examples from their own lives. Because 75% of the participants were Hispanic, being able to speak Spanish and/or having a good translator helped librarians better connect with their audience.

For a full report of the project’s findings, please see “We Read Together @ LAPL” available at http://everychildreadytoread.ning.com/page/research-3.

Cindy Mediavilla