Friday, June 12, 2015

10 Early Literacy Resources at Your Public Library (Besides Books)

The journey toward literacy starts at birth, as a child begins to collect information about language through his everyday experiences. The knowledge base surrounding reading and writing that the child develops in these early years is commonly known as early literacy. In addition to books, which are a key component in acquiring early literacy skills, your local public library provides many more resources to support your early literacy efforts. Ten of these are described below.

Children’s Magazines

Most libraries subscribe to at least a few magazines for children. For pre-readers, check out Babybug, Ladybug, Highlights Hello, and Highlights High Five for developmentally appropriate stories, rhymes, songs, and activities which incorporate early literacy practices.

Educator Magazines

At my local public library, there is a section of the children’s area designated for parents and educators. In addition to lots of wonderful non-fiction books about everything from sleep training to fingerpainting, there is also a selection of magazines for early childhood educators. If your library has such a section, look for titles such as The Mailbox and Young Children, which provide wonderful ideas for educational play from early childhood experts.


It is likely that somewhere in your library there is a table, shelf, or desk on which are spread various printed materials for patrons to pick up. Though it can be easy to overlook this area, you might be missing out on some great information. Take a moment to scan through the brochures and flyers and pick up anything referring to reading with young children or promoting early literacy.

Book Lists

Often, among the printed material left out for library users to take is a collection of book lists. These are commonly sorted by grade level, but many libraries also take the time to create lists of suggested books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. These book lists are also nice because they often tell you where the items can be found on the shelves at your specific library.


Not all libraries provide workshops for parents and caregivers, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the calendar for opportunities that might pop up, such as a class on creating flannel boards, or a training about the Every Child Ready to Read campaign. Many libraries also provide outreach services and might be willing to provide a workshop to your moms group or other local organization.


Scholastic periodically puts out video adaptations of classic picture books. These are available on DVD, but if your library subscribes to Bookflix, you can also stream them online from home with your library card. Each video of a fictional story is accompanied by a related non-fiction title to help your child explore a given topic in further detail. The books on Bookflix also have a read-along option, where subtitles can be turned on so your child can follow the words as they are read.


Similar to Bookflix, Tumblebooks also provides web-based video versions of picture books. You and your kids can create playlists of your favorites, and the site also provides accelerated reader and Lexile level information for its titles. (Note: Tumblebooks are more like e-books, whereas the Bookflix videos are often fully animated.)


Libraries subscribe to online databases on myriad topics, depending on the needs and interests of their communities. I have used library databases to locate children’s poems and short stories, to find suggested reading material based on things I and my daughter have enjoyed, and even to research early literacy information. Ask your local librarian for detailed information on what is available from your library.

Story Times

Story time is the ultimate early literacy experience! Join in on a session to learn about books, songs, and rhymes you can share at home, and to get helpful hints for reading aloud at home.

Children’s Librarians

While children’s librarians are not reading teachers or experts on child development, many of them have been trained in early literacy skills and practices and can suggest developmentally appropriate activities to do with your child. The children’s librarian is also the go-to source for all the resources mentioned above, as well as every other library resource available for kids. (Read more about the awesomeness of children’s librarians in this post!)
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