The 2012 SPELL research revealed 80% of parents and caregivers who indicated a first choice for accessing library program information chose to do so on-line, on a computer. Eighty percent! Most parents and caregivers of young children look for information about library services through the library website. What will they find on your site about early literacy?
While she was a research fellow at the Colorado State Library in 2012, Vivienne Houghton examined every library website in Colorado and found that only 6% (seven out of 114 libraries) had a definition of “early literacy” on their children’s services page. Only 15% had a description of early literacy skills, and 13% explained why it is important to read aloud to babies beginning from birth. These data are three years old, and there is little doubt that the numbers have improved. What does your library's website say about early literacy? Can you improve it?
Ms. Houghton’s research and her early literacy guide inform our recommendation that your library website include as many of the following elements as possible:
1) A definition of early literacy No, parents do not have to teach their children to read!
2) A description of early literacy skills Read, Talk, Write, Sing, Play
3) Discussion of the benefits of nurturing early literacy skills in children Brain research
4) Include resources in other languages Links to websites and brochures in other languages
5) Links to videos that model songs and rhymes for parents to try Show them how it’s done!
More information and links to other libraries’ brochures and videos can be found here.
Parents and caregivers are approaching you through your website. What will they find?
We had an excellent SPELL workshop to kick off receiving the Putting SPELL into Action grant from IMLS! Reps from 14 Colorado library jurisdictions attended the training in beautiful downtown Salida. Our great partners at Reach Out and Read Colorado and, via Skype, the Santa Barbara (CA) Public Library presented about their projects at the workshop as well. Find all 3 PowerPoint presentations plus handouts on the website's Training page.
ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) National Institute Session:
Removing Barriers to Early Literacy: Increasing Access to Books for Young Children
September 18 and 20
The Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Colorado State Library both received IMLS National Leadership Grants to minimize barriers to library services for low-income families. At this session, reps from both projects presented how to turn their findings into best practices you can use at your library to reach low-income and rural parents of 0-8 with an early literacy message and use innovative, low-cost methods to get more books into the hands of young children and empower parents to embed early literacy activities into their daily lives. There was great interest and energy around both projects and we believe they will go far in removing barriers to early literacy.
Find the handouts for our session and many others as well at the ALSC website:
Great news! We are pleased to announce that the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Colorado State Library a grant for $247,619 entitled Putting SPELL (Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries) into Action. This 2-year project will build upon our prior IMLS-funded research examining how libraries and other early childhood service agencies can empower low-income parents of children birth through three to embed early literacy activities in their daily lives.
Through the project, State Library staff will train eight teams from public libraries and early literacy organization partners on the SPELL findings and recommendations developed from our previous research grant. With mentoring from project staff, the teams in rural, suburban and urban areas around the state will then develop and test local prototype programs to deliver early literacy messaging to low-income parents, resulting in approximately 500 young children directly benefiting from the project. After a rigorous evaluation of the prototypes, project staff and partners will disseminate these research-based models to libraries and early literacy organizations nationwide to further early literacy goals throughout Colorado and the country.
Please follow this website to track the project's progress over the next 2 years.
For our full research findings, please see our Environmental Scan and Literature Review Findings as well as our Research Methodology and Findings documents.
And introducing the SPELL Blueprint! The blueprint contains practical applications for your library or other organization that serves parents of low-income parents with young parents to put the SPELL findings into practice. It is scalable, customizable, and easy-to-use. Please send questions and comments about the blueprint; it is a living document, and we plan to continually improve it with your feedback.
We had a great webinar on December 12, 2013 to share the findings of SPELL; please see the archived webinar at http://connect.enetcolorado.org/p283z1bnkk3/ and the webinar slides at the webinar tab above, http://spellproject.weebly.com/webinars.html.
Have questions or comments about the webinar content, or suggestions for SPELL as we move forward? Please post your feedback on our blog!
Lessons from SPELL: Supporting Parents in Early Literacy through Libraries
December 12, 11:00-12:30 MT
Do you strive to reach low-income parents of young children with an effective early literacy message? Please join us for this session to learn research-based, effective strategies to reach this important audience using knowledge from existing programs and literature, along with input from parents themselves. Findings from the SPELL project, funded by an IMLS National Leadership Grant, shed important light on the best times, places, and methods for libraries and other organizations that work with families to reach and effectively communicate with low-income parents of children ages 0-3 about early literacy. During the session, you’ll have the opportunity to share your own experiences with working with this audience, as well as give input into the project as it moves forward with a blueprint of recommendations and a larger project to test its findings. The webinar is presented by Dr. Mary Stansbury and Dr. Duan Zhang of the University of Denver, in partnership with the Colorado State Library. There’s no registration required for this free online session. Can’t make it? The webinar and additional material will be archived at the project’s website, http://spellproject.weebly.com/.
To join the webinar, go to http://connect.enetcolorado.org/spell/
SPELL is now in Phase 3--surveying parents of 0-3 year olds that use their local public libraries in 5 communities in Colorado. We are so grateful to our partner libraries for administering the surveys--our thanks to you!
While the surveys come in and we analyze the data, please take a look at our research findings to date. These initial findings alone have significant implications for libraries and many organizations that work with young children and their families. We believe that these findings, along with the surveys and focus groups of parents of 0-3 year olds that will encompass Phase 4 of SPELL, will result in important considerations for organizations to reach low-income parents of very young children with an early literacy message. Check back for more findings!
Though we haven't posted much recently, lots of work on SPELL has been going on behind the scenes! Check out the recently updated Literature Review page to learn about the significant work completed in that area. As we move into our original research phases of the project (surveys and focus groups), the Literature Review and Environmental Scan will inform the questions that we will be asking parents of children birth to 3 who both use (via the surveys) and do not use (via the focus groups) public libraries. Stay tuned to the SPELL website as we move into these next excited phases of the project!