ALA Midwinter 2015

Rewarding Awards

It is that time of year again. The upcoming Youth Media Awards, announced at this year’s Midwinter conference in Chicago, always generate a lot of excitement. Many of us in the world of children’s books have been reading all year, along with our award committees. There is speculation, discussion, anticipation. We take pride in our Association’s role in seeing the best in children’s literature take its place in the cannon alongside the classics of our own childhoods. The Youth Media Award announcements are the highlight of the conference for many.

While our role in media evaluation is critical to our mission and purpose, the recent terrific buzz generated from the NPR story on EVERY CHILD READY TO READ was welcome and important. Libraries play a critical role in early education and in improving the literacy skills of young children. While this is widely known in library circles and is gaining visibility in educational fields, the public continues to leave the library out of the business of early literacy.

Our colleagues in Carroll County, Maryland have been doing this great work in early literacy for years and many of us around the country are using the five literacy practices outlined in ECRR2 in our daily work. In collaboration with our PLA colleagues, we have created an easily incorporated set of important, useful practices that will provide the basis for early literacy in a variety of environments that fit all our communities we serve.

The amazing EVERYDAY ADOVACY website continues to help us all in putting our value front and center to our communities. Wonderful press like the NPR piece on ECRR2 brings our contributions the lives of our families to a national level. Our communities understand our value when we are able to articulate it succinctly and sincerely. Make sure all our families know that our work extends past the august awards we bestow and leave as legacy to children’s literature. Equally important is our role in the lives of our youngest customers and ensuring that there are readers who will grow up to discover the wondrous treasures waiting for them.

One comment

  1. Tess

    I could not agree more. I cannot think of another professional that parents can access without an appointment, assessment or referral to talk to about their child, their parenting, their family life. All free, all confidential, all tailored specifically to each child and family’s needs, characteristics, preferences and articulated interests. Ideally, in certain situations we might work closely with teachers, speech-pathologists researchers and others to name a few of the other key professionals who help ensure that families in our communities get the best that of what is available to them, when they both want and need it. For my dissertation work I am employing Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems theory to help me situate and explore the role of children’s librarians in the lives of families who have children with disabilities. It is fascinating to learn about who is working with parents within each child’s micro-system and even more fascinating and gratifying to learn from librarians about the work they do to support families of children with disabilities in their communities. I think a lot of our impact goes unobserved, and is most definitely under-researched. Because of this lack of evidence (there is some -Susan Neuman, Eliza Dresang to name a few – but not enough), the general public as well as allied professions seem to have minimal knowledge about the actual and potential impact of children’s library services on the lives of all children. The NPR piece (and similar pieces I have seen in Canada) help to raise the profile of our collective role in early literacy, among many other important things we have been doing for decades as a profession. Advocacy is key. Thank you for helping to raise the children’s services librarian profile.

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