Storytime Planning
Parent Education
Spanish Resources



Participant Surveys
Library Data





Recent studies on brain and early literacy development indicate that preparing children for success as readers can begin as early as infancy. Such research places increased emphasis on the critical role of parents and caregivers as a child's first teacher.

Public Libraries can be important facilitators in the process of nurturing future readers. The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children view public libraries as performing a vital role in their communities in providing early literacy information to parents, caregivers, early childhood teachers, children’s services agency staff, and political decision makers. This view has been reinforced through the work of the Public Library Association's Early Literacy Project; the resulting PLA/ALSC Early Literacy Initiative 2003 Evaluation demonstrates the impact of early literacy library programs with research findings.

The Growing Readers @ MHLS Libraries project focuses on integrating research-based early literacy practices into library storytimes and on providing parent/caregiver workshops that demonstrate instructive methods to assist their children from birth to age 5 with reading-readiness skills.

Storytime sessions are divided into three developmentally appropriate age groupings and parent/caregiver workshop sessions coincide with the three age levels as well:
  • Early Talkers - Birth - Age 2
  • Talkers - Ages 2 - 3
  • Pre-Readers - Ages 4 - 5

Participating libraries implement two of these three programs, based upon their perceptions of their current patrons' and their communities' needs. Storytime programs run as ten-week sessions, with children and parent/caregivers in each session. Parents/caregivers also attend a separate workshop session and are required to complete a brief intake form at the beginning of the program, as well as an evaluation form at the end.

Project History
The Mid-Hudson Library System has received three grants to support the Growing Readers @ MHLS Libraries Early Literacy Project. The first grant, from Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds in program year 2003-2004, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, supported implementation of the project in Cairo, Kinderhook and Mahopac libraries.

The second grant, awarded by the Success by 6 Committee (a subgroup of the Dutchess County Children's Services Council), supported implementation of the program in Clinton, Dover, Millbrook, Northeast - Millerton, Pine Plains and Stanford libraries.

The current round of funding for 2004-2005 comes from Dutchess County United Way and will allow for extension of this project into three more libraries: Hyde Park Free Library, Staatsburg Library Society and Tivoli Free Library. Additional in-kind support for the project was also received from The Lisa Libraries of Boiceville, NY, which provided more than 3,000 new children's books to be distributed to program participants, and the IBM Corporation, which contributed eight Little Tikes Computers to Dutchess County libraries involved in the project.

A comprehensive professional training workshop was held in November 2003 for participating libraries' directors and storytime staff. Invitations to attend this session were also sent to day-care, nursery- and pre- school staff from the communities involved. This served the dual purpose of helping to publicize the library programs, and offering to other interested community childcare workers the opportunity to learn about techniques to foster emergent literacy.

In addition two related workshops were held in the fall of 2004: StoryPlay--Storyhour as the Doorway into Literacy and Raising a Reader @ the Library. All materials adapted for this program were drawn from the Public Library Association's Pre-School Literacy Initiative Project, a venture which has been tested in several libraries around the country (but none in New York), and draws on professionally-developed (but fun!) techniques for helping young children learn.