Guest Blogger

#PLA2024 The Science of Reading

One of the topics that is visible in this year’s slate of PLA programming is The Science of Reading (pre-conference and regular programming). As one of our school districts adopted the curriculum this year, my coworker and I attended Public Libraries and Schools: Everything You Need to Know about the Science of Reading yesterday. This three-hour preconference session had a phenomenal line-up of speakers who discussed both what the state of Ohio is doing on a government level and what various public libraries around the state are doing on a local level. Some takeaways from today include:

  • Look into your district literacy plans (usually different than the curriculum, but works together with it)
  • There are five key skills in the Science of Reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Any of those look familiar with what we are already doing with early literacy?
  • I had not heard of the Scarborough rope before. If you haven’t, it is a great visual for how literacy works.
  • Multiple presenters mentioned Sold a Story: How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong (podcast) and how they used it as staff training. If you haven’t listened to it, it is around 4 hours total and may be worth a listen.
  • The libraries who spoke of having a reader collection have renamed their collections from “easy reader.” One uses “early reader” and another just uses “reader.” Decodable books are a separate section next to the reader books.
  • Search terms were added to catalog records as keywords to make decodable books more discoverable. The terms used were “decodable” and “phonics.”
  • Staff training was a big emphasis from multiple presenters. Yes, you can do the work, but all staff are involved, not just front line youth services staff. Your collection development staff have to buy the books and understand what decodable books are. Front line staff have to know how to build a search if a patron asks for blends. Programmers can use the same language in story times and other programs.

There was much more, but this was a great session that has left me pondering new ideas for our library system.


Lisa Mulvenna (she/her/hers) is the Head of Children’s and Teen Services at Clinton-Macomb Public Library. You can also find her online on Threads at @floopy13. She is looking forward to networking with colleagues and the ability to share ideas. This is her 6th PLA. An interesting fact about her is that her family has been in the Guinness World Records! In 2000, they participated in the largest family reunion at the Lake County Fairgrounds outside of Chicago. The record appeared in the 2001 Book of Records, but has since been overtaken.


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Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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