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Libraries to support literacy development: scale, sustainability and impact

Tue, April 16, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency, Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront B

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


The endeavor to support children in the early grades in their literacy development requires a rich selection of books for children to practice their newly acquired reading skills. However, books are only useful if they are accessible to children both in and out of school. Libraries that allow children to choose and borrow books, along with teachers and community members with the skills to support children’s use of books, are instrumental in providing children with meaningful access to books. Unfortunately, functioning, accessible children’s libraries are rare in many low and middle-income countries which presents an interesting challenge: how do we ensure children in these communities have access to reading materials and libraries in ways that are sustainable and supportive of learning?

The first three presentations on this panel share experiences in using libraries to support literacy development from three parts of the world: Vietnam, Kenya, and Honduras. In Vietnam, Room to Read engaged government partners in a long-term partnership to incorporate the Room to Read library model into revised national standardized library policies with the goal of government partners taking on the implementation of children’s libraries across Vietnam. In Kenya, a partnership was established between a local youth group, the Nakuru County Youth Bunge Forum (NCYBF), and the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) to improve literacy skills among grade 1-3 children. This partnership ensured both access to books and a library space for reading activities with children, and it has long-term benefits to the program’s implementation and its sustainability. In Honduras, each project school had to contribute a space for the library as well as identify a teacher, employee, or volunteer who would serve as the designated librarian. The project engaged public-private partnerships and civil society to leverage resources from Honduran businesses to sponsor schools with books, supplies and connectivity so that they would have access to reading materials in their school libraries. The final presentation shares findings from a cross national study on library effectiveness and impact on children’s life-wide habit of reading—reading for pleasure both inside and outside of school. Based on systematic data collection on children’s reading preferences and library check out rates, the presentation will also highlight findings on children’s reader preferences and book check out analytics.

Carol da Silva, Senior Advisor of Basic Education, Save the Children, will serve as the discussant. She will provide summary remarks and then facilitate Q&A with panel attendees.

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