Improving our Libraries will Improve our Literacy Levels

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! Last year I did a post on Literacy and it’s a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. And at that time I had the thought that e-books might be one of the solutions to our literary woes. But then I started working on a grant proposal for an organization (more about that later) and I did some research and found out something very interesting.

In all communities lack of funding or poverty is the number one cause of low literacy. By providing the tools (e-readers, e-books, and paperbacks) needed to fight this issue we are having a direct effect on it. Wan (2000) reviewed multiple reports to find the positive impacts of reading to children. Some experiments Wan reviewed involved reading aloud with individual students while others combined alone and group storybook readings to a class. Wan’s findings showcased that reading to children was vital to personal and school achievement. Even Stephen D Krashen author of “The Power of Reading” and Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California said, “In my opinion, the place to focus is the library, both the school and public library. Studies show a positive relationship between library quality (school and public) and the amount read, as well as a relationship with reading competence. Better libraries mean more literacy development for younger readers as well as for high school students.” Therefore, successful approaches to reading including read-aloud programs and setting aside time for reading. The first way to do this is to improve the amount of books on the library shelves.

So the gist of the last paragraph is that if we improve our libraries (school and public) we’ll have a positive effect on literacy levels. Here are some statistics that support this claim.

Information Brief: Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement by the New York Comprehensive Center

State Impact Studies

 

Collaboration between Teachers and the School Library

Collaboration between teachers and the school library through cooperative planning, identification of educational resources, and imparting information literacy skills, positively impacts teacher effectiveness and promotes student growth.

• Colorado:  A study conducted in 2000 showed that students in elementary schools with highly collaborative relationships between teachers and school librarians scored 21% higher than students with less collaborative relationships on the Colorado Student Assessment Program, or CSAP (Lance, Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell, 2000).

• Indiana: A 2006 study showed that when principals put an emphasis on in-service opportunities for collaboration between teachers and school librarians, there was an increase in test scores of 29.5% compared to those who placed a lower emphasis on such activities. Additionally, collaboration in curriculum design and delivery of instruction resulted in a 7.8% increase in test results. It should be noted that these relationships were evident in both the elementary and high school grade levels (Scholastic, 2008).

• Illinois:  A 2005 study involving high schools showed that American College Testing (ACT) scores were highest for 11th graders when there was a high degree of collaboration between school librarians and teachers across a range of activities such as identifying materials, planning lessons, and motivating students to read.

• Oregon:  A study indicated that schools with the best Oregon Statewide Assessment reading and language scores had teachers who were twice as likely to collaborate with school librarians. Furthermore, students      in such classes were over 3 times more likely to visit the school library (Scholastic, 2008).

Access for Students

Providing access for teachers and students to school library facilities and resources, including through flexible scheduling, helps support students and has a positive effect on retention, work performance, and grades.

• Delaware: A study noted that teachers and faculty placed high value on school libraries due to their role in providing students with technology access, as well as ensuring information source quality       and diversity. The study concluded that teachers believed that such access helped them perform their responsibilities and duties better (Todd & Heinstrom, 2006)

• Illinois: A study involving schools that provided increased access to the school library through flexible scheduling found that fifth grade students performed 10% better in reading and 11% better in writing on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) compared to those schools with less access. Similar results were seen in high school, where there were 5% differences between schools on the ACT    (Lance Rodney, & Hamilton-Pennell).

• Michigan: A study demonstrated that teachers and students in schools with the highest reading scores on the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) were four times more likely to have access to the school library on a flexibly scheduled basis than those in the lowest scoring schools (Rodney, Keith, & Christine, 2003).

These statistics demonstrate that the more teachers work with their library and the more resources a library can provide this has a direct effect on literacy levels of the students. This also applies to public libraries as well.

Without a variety of books to choose from a public library will attract very few readers. So, the more books a library has the more young people will be using its facilities.

A low cost alternative is the e-book. E-readers can hold approximately one thousand e-books. And e-books are less expensive and more durable than paperbacks. So, let’s help our libraries. We can donate our books and our time to them. I said it before and I’ll say it again! E-books are one of the solutions to our literacy issues!

Thanks for stopping by today and reading my post! Leave a comment and share your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you!

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About Lisa Orchard

I'm a Young Adult Author with two new series, "The Starlight Chronicles" and "The Super Spies." The first one's a coming of age series and the second one's a mystery/thriller series. I'm also the mother of two boys who keep me hopping and they're my inspiration for everything. When I'm not shuttling my boys to school or a play date, I'm writing. When I'm not writing, I'm reading, hiking, or sometimes running. I love anything chocolate and scary movies too.
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10 Responses to Improving our Libraries will Improve our Literacy Levels

  1. sharonledwith says:

    I’m with you, Lisa! Ereaders would do so much good. Especially easing the backs of our children who carry heavy books in their knapsacks! Empowering kids to become better adults is the key to a healthier, happier future for all of us! Kudos for an excellent post!

  2. jeff7salter says:

    I worked in librarianship for nearly 30 yrs and spend roughly half of that time working with literacy programs, efforts, and awareness.
    My brother and I co-authored a book, “Literacy and the Library” (Libraries Unlimited, 1991) which encouraged libraries to become more involved in adult basic literacy materials programming.
    Sadly, long before I retired, I had noticed many libraries (& their spokespersons) shifting from ABE and ESL to what was variously called “computer literacy” or “information literacy”. Those, as best I could discern, were more about use of computers than they were bout gaining fundamental literacy skills which could help shop for the correct products, get jobs, read medicine bottles, etc.

    • Lisa Orchard says:

      Thanks for stopping by Jeff! It’s great to hear from an “insider” on the library system and it saddens me that they’ve changed their direction. We need to get them moving back in the right direction! Wouldn’t you agree?

      • jeff7salter says:

        I definitely agree, Lisa. But I’m not optimistic that much will change. The slogan for Laubach used to be: “give a man a fish and he can have a meal … teach a man how to fish and he can eat for a lifetime”.
        Well, that’s not the precise quote, but it’s pretty close. The earlier emphasis was to teach people without literacy skills how to cope, apply for jobs, get GEDs, become aware of current events, vote responsibly, interact with their kids on the assignments brought home, interact better with the medical profession (in terms of treatment and Rx), and be more astute shoppers.
        I don’t see much evidence of those kinds of programs anymore.

      • Lisa Orchard says:

        That is very sad Jeff. We need those programs now more than ever. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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