Research and Advocacy
Become familiar with, and stay current with, evidence-based research on how young children learn, and how early experiences impact later school achievement and reading success. The appropriate use of relevant research helps libraries:
- Understand young children's development and learning
- Create responsive, successful library programs and services
- Share with decision makers why library early literacy activities are so important
Here are some of the most helpful, focused compilations of early literacy research of interest to librarians, followed by a wealth of resources to help you advocate for early literacy services in your library and community.
Early Literacy Research:
Every Child Ready to Read Literature Overview
Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) details the research and reasoning behind the program. It discusses the skills necessary for children to develop a foundation for reading and writing, including: The Critical Dimensions of Language and Literacy in Early Childhood, Research on Constrained/Unconstrained Skills, Features of the Environment that Support Literacy Development, Interactional Supports for Literacy Learning, and Addressing the Needs of English Language Learners.
Every Child Ready to Read List of References, 2010 Evaluation
This is a comprehensive list of references used by ECRR in its 2010 program evaluation. These sources were used to evaluate Every Child Ready to Read 1st edition, and helped create the 2nd edition. Please note that the references are not linked to full text or details.
Early Literacy Research Noted
This compilation by Saroj Ghoting includes links to research related to early learning and early literacy, including the areas of: Demographics, Brain Development and Child Development; Language Development and Early Literacy Skills; Books/Reading and Early Literacy Skills; The Five Practices: Sing, Talk, Read, Write, Play; Effect of Media Viewing on Language Development; Bilingual Language and Learning; and Early Literacy and Children Who Are Deaf. Each citation links to the full text of the article or study! Only articles and reports available freely in full text are included in this compilation.
Oregon State Library: Research and Professional Resources
The Oregon State Library provides research resources that include early literacy issues/research, statistical data, and links to early childhood online journals and blogs.
New York State Library: Emerging and Early Literacy Research links
The New York State Library has put together a list of research resources that will help you understand emerging and early literacy, literacy and children, and the school library/public library connection.
Colorado Early Literacy Online Resource Guide (PDF)
This guide consists of a selection of early literacy best practices and resources that public libraries can use as a guide for their own websites in order to promote early literacy to parents, caregivers and early childhood educators.
National Association for the Education of Young Children: Accessing Early Childhood Research
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides pathways and instruction to find resources about early childhood research. One of their main goals is to link early childhood research with those who practice early childhood education and learning. Librarians and educators can use this research to make sure the practices they use are in the best interest of the children.
A Window to the World:
Early Language and Literacy Development (PDF)
This 2011 research brief from Zero to Three shows how early language and literacy development contributes to a child's success throughout life, puts forth five policy recommendations, and summarizes relevant research. Recommendations include: Emphasize family engagement, particularly the role of parents in emergent literacy and the importance of reaching all at-risk infants and toddlers; Dedicate funding to support early language and literacy development in infants and toddlers, including professional development for early childhood professionals who care for infants and toddlers; Ensure that wording of literacy legislation for children birth through grade 12 reflects children's needs across the entire age range; Build collaborations among birth to 3, prekindergarten, and K-12 programs to create shared responsibility for language and literacy development; and Focus research funds on supporting early language and literacy for infants and toddlers.
The Link Between Public Libraries and Early Reading Success
This research-fueled article from School Library Journal discusses the impact of public library activities on children's early reading success.
Resources to Help You Advocate:
An initiative of the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), Everyday Advocacy offers a collection of resources designed to empower library staff to take action in their libraries, communities, and beyond. Advocacy is so important, but that doesn't mean it has to be intimidating. Everyday Advocacy highlights ideas and tips that are quick, easy to implement, and highly doable. The site's goal is to develop powerful advocates for children and library service to children.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children: Effective Advocacy Resources
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) provides many useful fact sheets and informational resources about advocacy. They have a good collection of information about the legal aspects of the subject.
Ounce of Prevention Fund
The Ounce of Prevention Fund has a single goal: that all American children, particularly those born into poverty, have quality early childhood experiences in the crucial first five years of life. The Ounce provides direct services to children in the Chicago area, and advocates for state and federal funding for early childhood services that reach hundreds of thousands of children across the country. A public awareness video produced by the Ounce, Change the First Five Years and You Change Everything, is a compelling introduction to the problem of children in poverty being unready for kindergarten. Share it with your local decision makers and your community.
Association for Library Services to Children Blog
The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) blog has several posts that are useful to early literacy advocates. In particular, Authors Speak Out for Libraries introduces an interesting resource for librarians to use.
Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy Blog
Another blog containing useful information about early literacy advocacy is the Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy blog. Of particular note are the Monthly Advocacy Tips. Many of these tips are simple, but quite effective.
Reading Rockets Advocacy Page
The advocacy page for Reading Rockets is geared towards parents (with some attention given to educators). There are numerous informational documents for parents as well as links to advocacy blogs. In addition, a reading list about books discussing the need for early literacy advocacy is provided.
Zero to Three - Federal Policy Baby Blog
The public policy process can be fast-paced, so this blog offers important policy developments impacting babies, toddlers, families, and early childhood professionals. A service of Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.
Friends of the Library U.S.A. - Early Literacy
This page, created by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (formerly known as the Friends of the Library U.S.A) contains links to early literacy research and articles. A few of the links are broken and the page is no longer maintained, but there are still valuable research sources for advocates to be found on this page.
ALA's Advocacy Clearinghouse
This page brings together ALA's tools and resources for advocating for libraries, librarians, and library services. Check the General Advocacy section for basic instructional and research tools for the beginning advocate, and the Advocacy Factsheets section for guides on becoming a better advocate, building your advocacy campaign, making your case, lobbying, and working with the media. Another useful resource is their Early Literacy Talking Points.
Ohio Library Council Advocacy Resources
The OLC makes available an Advocacy Handbook to coach library staff in building a library advocacy network and reaching legislators. The focus is on communicating with state and local elected officials. This resource is available to OLC members; login is required to access and download it. The Ohio Library Council Government Relations is dedicated to enhancing the role of public libraries as advocates for library services and library patrons.
International Reading Association
The mission of the International Reading Association is to promote reading by continuously advancing the quality of literacy instruction and research worldwide. Its Legislative Action Team is a grassroots network of member volunteers participating in advocacy efforts to promote quality instruction.
SparkAction Early Care and Learning
The Benton Foundation provides information for adults to advocate for children in their communities through SparkAction.org. The Early Care and Learning section gives ideas for cost-effective programs, citable research sources, and other information advocating care and literacy for young children.
National Coalition for Literacy
While not focused on early literacy, this advocacy organization is very active in adult education, family literacy, and English language acquisition in the U.S. The NCL works to raise public awareness for the need to increase funding and programs, to promote effective public policy, and to serve as a resource for the field on national adult education issues.
The National Center for Family Literacy
The National Center for Family literacy provides Family Literacy Oriented Training and Consulting, as well as early literacy research. They have several programs including the Toyota Family Literacy Program, that address the growing educational needs of Hispanic and other immigrant families by increasing English language and literacy skills for adults while also supporting their involvement in their children's education. This program has funded over 255 family literacy sites.