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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Using the Library and Reading

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, September 14, 2008

Connecting the usage of a public library by children, with the development of reading skills in school has always been a goal of libraries.

 

Any librarian can give you anecdotal evidence of the connection of library usage with success in school through reading.

 

Story times and children's programs to promote reading and library usage can serve as the backbone of child development.

 

Librarians remember the children that use the library, that become young adults using the library, and adults that use the library.

 

Many of our seniors visiting the library recount their own parents bring them to the library many years ago to start their reading development.

 

Now, using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, there is a "strong, positive link" to the checkout of children's books from a public library with the 4th grade test scores from that agency.

 

In general, the greater the amount of materials checked out of libraries, and the greater the attendance at library programs, the more likely kids will do well in reading.

 

A recent article in "School Library Journal" attempts to correlate these statistics.

 

They use the data from three states that score highly in both 4th grade reading and children's circulation per capita.

 

Those states are Colorado, Minnesota, and our own Ohio.

 

The statistics show a strong connection between public library usage by children, and higher reading test scores.

 

In addition, the study finds that the influence of parents, other family members, and friends is strong on reading development within children.

 

The same people that borrow books from their public library, also have more reading materials in their home for their children.

 

In Ohio, the State Library and the Ohio Library Council have formed Ohio Ready To Read, to provide public library-based support and advocacy for young children's early literacy needs.

 

ORTR is working with one assigned library staff in each of Ohio's 251 public library districts to be sure that the tools are available to each library district to provide those services.

 

This year, regional coordinators have been assigned to coordinate training opportunities in all areas of the state.

 

Our library system has been active in early childhood development and reading since the implementation of our Family Place Program in 1999.

 

It is great to watch the fruits of work done a decade ago cause a young adult today to have reading skills that will carry them into adulthood and their career.

 

As parents, my wife and I would encourage our son to read and use the library.

 

We never "picked" his books, never forced him to read something specific.  We left those choices to him.

 

Today, he is realizing the importance of reading and writing skills as a student at the Ohio State University.

 

Encourage your children, grandchildren, and friends to make the public library a stop on their road to reading.