Toolkit helps libraries prepare children for school success

Alabama selected as partner state in IMLS-funded school readiness training for public libraries

MONTGOMERY – Staff from 88 Alabama public libraries will begin the Reimagining School Readiness train-the-trainer program led by the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS), starting March 1. The program reinforces early learning through discovery for children from birth to age 8 and their families.

Developed by the Bay Area Discovery Museum with support from the California State Library and the Pacific Library Partnership, the Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit is a set of free resources to equip librarians with proven strategies for families preparing their children for success in school.

“School readiness is an important benchmark for all families with young children to achieve,” said APLS Director Nancy C. Pack. “The program places a strong emphasis on key aspects of early childhood development including quality adult-child interactions, social skills, math and science learning, emotional learning, and stress management. I am excited to demonstrate our commitment to this project and to help Alabama’s children exceed literacy goals outlined by Gov. Kay Ivey.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, more than 50 percent of 4-year-olds across the nation are not enrolled in preschool, and children who do not attend preschool begin Kindergarten behind their peers. According to the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, the state’s First Class Pre-K program is operating 1,373 classrooms with approximately 24,714 students (41 percent of Alabama’s 4-year-olds) for the 2021-22 school year. The Reimagining School Readiness Toolkit was developed in 2017 to help close this gap among early learners by empowering librarians to share helpful resources, tips, and activities with their communities. A grant of nearly $250,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) expanded the toolkit to reach 18 states over three years.

The toolkit’s resources—including implementation tips and strategies for librarians, and take-home activities for families—are based on research that views school readiness as a robust developmental process over the first eight years of a child’s life. Program research asserts that all children are capable of developing the skills they need if the adults in their lives provide developmentally appropriate and rich experiences to boost learning and cognitive development. The toolkit includes fliers, bookmarks, posters, and flashcards in six languages that feature easy, everyday activities and conversation starters for families to share to build quality interactions that shape children’s thinking skills.

The Alabama Public Library Service is the state agency whose mission is to provide information services to all citizens, local public libraries, and state employees.