Storytimes matter! Building early literacy in YOUR public libraries.
Planning that is developmentally appropriate and themed based is important
- We have found that purposeful planning and reflection is an important part of continually improving storytimes.
The tools, videos, and tip sheets provided via the concept pages through the links on the right will be helpful when experimenting with including new or additional literacy indicators in storytimes.
- Supporting your children’s librarians to incorporate research based tools while maintaining their autonomy and professionalism in the field is a win-win for your programming AND for children’s early learning.
- Creating spaces for communities of practice will allow for professional growth and a sense of community in ways that mirror informal learning environments and serve your library community in exponential ways.
VIEWS2 Planning grant occurred in 2009-2010 and as a result the team wrote the VIEWS White Paper and identified need.
The University of Washington Information School’s Research Project called Valuable Initiatives in Early Learning that Work Successfully 2 (VIEWS2) conducted innovative research into storytimes at public libraries in order to provide valid and reliable evidence for practice.
The research was implemented as a quasi-experimental design with randomly selected libraries/librarians sorted into either a control or experimental group. There were a series of three baseline storytime observations done at all 40 libraries; the data shows a strong correlation between the behaviors the librarian was observed doing and the children’s behaviors (Pearson r = 0.803, p < 0.01). Read the comprehensive paper (pending) on Project VIEWS2 that describes rationale, significance, methodology, statistics and conclusions and areas for future research.
This is the first study that demonstrates that what librarians DO in storytimes positively IMPACTS children’s early literacy behaviors.
The researchers observed the librarians using the Program Evaluation Tool (PET), and at the children as a group using a segment of Dr. Erika Feldman’s Dissertation Tool: Benchmark Curricular Planning and Assessment Framework (BCPAF).
During the second year of the grant, we wanted to know:
- Can we train librarians to use these tools? AND
- Would being trained on the tools increase the early literacy behaviors librarians included in their storytimes?
In order to accomplish this, the tools (link to resources page) were combined, adapted, and broken down by early literacy concepts and by developmental stages—B-18, 18-36, 36-60–months in an easy-to-use, side-by-side format.
We divided the librarians by random assignment into control and experimental groups. We then trained the experimental group librarians to use the tools. We visited each of the 40 libraries again to observe storytimes.
While we found that there was no statistically significant change in the control group, the experimental librarians who were trained on the tools had a statistically significant increase in the amount and range of early literacy concepts they included in their storytimes.
VIEWS2 ascertained that a purposeful focus on early literacy concepts in storytimes makes a difference on the program and the children’s early literacy behaviors AND that librarians can use these research-based tools for planning and self-reflection.
These tools enable librarians to plan confidently across developmentally appropriate stages to include early literacy behaviors in their storytimes.
We used four tools in the study, three of which were developed by members of the research team.
- BCPAF (Benchmark Curricular Planning and Assessment Framework) was developed by Dr. Erika Feldman, as her dissertation for the College of Education at the University of Washington.
- PET stands for Program Evaluation Tool, and it is used to examine the program that the librarian is delivering. PET was created to mirror BCPAF so they have the same format and can be used together. PET and BCPAF are based on the Washington State Early Learning Benchmarks, Every Child Ready to Read 1, the National Reading Panel, and the National Early Literacy Panel. Both tools went through extensive development and testing prior to their use in the grant.
While BCPAF and PET played a role in helping us to accomplish our first goal, of conducting innovative research in early literacy storytimes, they are central to our second goal—they serve as planning and evaluation tools for early literacy programs.
In our resources page – you will find an integrated version of the tools that combines BCPAF and PET just like the ones we used to train librarians in the study for reflection and practice.
- EL-Capstone is an early literacy instrument that librarians in the study took at the beginning and end of the study developed by Janet Capps as part of her dissertation.
- ELSA is an individual assessment tool that is used in a one-on-one manner for research with individual children. ELSA stands for Early Literacy Skills Assessment and it is distributed by the HighScope Foundation.