Family involvement is traditionally conceptualized as the role parents assume in formal early childhood education (ECE) settings, such as preschool. However, family involvement in early learning is not limited to formal, school-like experiences. For many children, much of their early learning occurs with parents, family members, and other informal caregivers within the home and during outings into their local communities. Therefore, finding innovative ways for communities to engage families in their young children’s early learning process is very important. Public libraries are well-established community resources that are recognized by families as reliable institutions with trustworthy information. This chapter suggests that public libraries hold great potential to provide early education experiences that naturally encourage family involvement in early learning. First, we review how public libraries are well positioned to support family involvement in children’s early learning. We also highlight recent library-based efforts to reach families with research-informed learning experiences that support children’s school readiness. A case study of one public library’s partnership with university researchers to deliver library-based interactive parent-child programming is presented. Finally, we address national efforts to include public libraries within statewide early childhood comprehensive systems and important considerations for building upon the potential of public libraries to support families with young children.
Pratt, M.E., Taylor, M., van Huisstede, L. and Gaias, L.M. (2016), "A Novel Take on Family Involvement: Public Libraries as Early Education for the Whole Family", Family Involvement in Early Education and Child Care (Advances in Early Education and Day Care, Vol. 20), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 67-89. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0270-402120160000020003
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