Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness: The Importance of Libraries in the Lives of Young Children
The Fourth Follett Lecture, Graduate School of Library and Information Science,
Dominican University, 23 April 2008
Steven L. Herb
This paper traces emergent literacy from early language development through the importance of parent–facilitated early literacy learning to effective literature practices in homes and public libraries. Special attention is paid to the successful advocacy role of public libraries and children’s librarians. Several exemplary national literacy programs are also highlighted.
For this lecture and in my work generally, I define literacy in its broadest sense, encompassing the mastery of reading and writing skills, and also the skills of listening and speaking. Emergent literacy encompasses all those behaviors in early childhood that lead to reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
Yet literacy involves more than those skills in isolation. Literacy also implies communication and development within a meaningful social and cultural context. In addition, a truly literate person is disposed toward lifelong literacy. He or she reads, writes, and converses because those activities improve one’s life by leading to enjoyment, understanding, self–expression, and learning about oneself, and the world.
And, sadly, the converse seems to be coming true. In the recent National Endowment for the Arts research report: To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence, NEA chairman Dana Gioia sums up the chilling problem quite well:
The story the data tell is simple, consistent, and alarming. Although there has been measurable progress in recent years in reading ability at the elementary school level, all progress appears to halt as children enter their teenage years. There is a general decline in reading among teenage and adult Americans. Most alarming, both reading ability and the habit of regular reading have greatly declined among college graduates. These negative trends have more than literary importance. As the report makes clear, the declines have demonstrable social, economic, cultural, and civic implications.
How does one summarize this disturbing story? As Americans, especially younger Americans, read less, they read less well. Because they read less well, they have lower levels of academic achievement. (The shameful fact that nearly one–third of American teenagers drop out of school is deeply connected to declining literacy and reading comprehension.) With lower levels of reading and writing ability, people do less well in the job market. Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement. Significantly worse reading skills are found among prisoners than in the general adult population. And deficient readers are less likely to become active in civic and cultural life, most notably in volunteerism and voting. (Gioia, 2007, p. 5)
One of the most intriguing findings to me was that non-readers not only stay away from symphonies and plays and museums, but they also avoid sporting events, playing sports, exercising, and engaging in outdoor activities.
Another is that nine–year–olds are reading for pleasure as much if not more than ever! Clearly there are aliteracy issues to be addressed as well.
Hard–wired to Reward
Children are born ready to learn to talk. Most of us are not speech therapists or linguists, but we manage to teach our kids to talk in spite of ourselves because children are doing much of the work themselves — in the form of playful interaction with a loving parent.
The most important object in a child’s early life is the one that provides all the clues about talking — the face. And nothing can make the adult face break into a bigger smile than the loving attention of a laughing baby’s gaze.
There are many theories about language acquisition — behavioral, cognitive, constructivist, but they all have one common methodology. Talking is a social partnership between the child and a caring adult — a linguistic social dance that lays the foundation for all future literacy skills.
Before children say their first words at an average age of eleven months, they have spent every day of nearly a year as listeners in a social world where people are talking to, and around them. In homes where that conversation is plentiful and rich and filled with stories and books — the future for literacy is bright and success in school is almost guaranteed. When the language is spare and filled with “noes” and books are few, school can be tough from the very first day.
Vocabulary — the first fifty
Once they begin, it takes several months for children to learn their first fifty words, but by age two and through age six they are adding six to ten words per day.
Linguist Michael Halliday talks about the functions of language in young children — learning how to mean. The first four functions help the child to satisfy physical, emotional and social needs.
- Instrumental: is the language children use to express their personal needs (‘Want juice’ or the more critical, ‘Go potty!’)
- Regulatory: is language used to tell others what to do or not do (My daughter Maggie at 2, when I scared her a little more than she liked, took my face in her hands and said quite seriously, “Papa, don’t never do that again!”)
- Personal: is the use of language to express feelings, opinions and individual identity (I once taught in a preschool where a girl’s physical size and resemblance to a younger child led to the first words we heard her speak, “Not baby!”)
- Interactional: language is used to make contact with others and form relationships (Three–year–old Owen stroked his preschool teacher’s hair recently and said, “Grey is my favorite color.”)
The next three functions all help the child come to terms with his or her environment.
- Heuristic: is when language is used to find out about things, to learn things (‘What do you got?’)
- Imaginative: is language used to tell stories and jokes, and to create an imaginary environment. (My uncle Ray who is about ten years older than I am clearly remembers my best friend before my brother was born, ‘Mr. G.’ I received one of the best laughs in any talk I ever gave when I was the keynote speaker at a library conference on Long Island and I noted that I finally found my imaginary friend the night before — he had been missing for over 40 years. He was doing the weather on Channel 11 in Manhattan, and still is to this day.)
- Representational: language is used to convey facts and information. (One exasperated preschooler to another when they discovered they both had pasta for dinner the night before: “It’s not SKA Betties, it’s Pu–sgetees!” (Halliday,1975/2004 ; examples from Herb & Willoughby–Herb)
Language Interaction Between Parents and Children
In the introduction to Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley’s landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children, Lois Bloom writes that the authors discovered that some things don’t matter [in literacy development].
“For example, race doesn’t matter; ethnicity doesn’t matter; gender doesn’t matter; whether a child is the first in the family or born later also doesn’t matter.
But what does matter, and it matters very much, is relative economic advantage. Children living in poverty, children born into middle–class homes, and children with professional parents all have the same kinds of everyday language experiences.
They all hear talk about persons and things, about relationships, actions, and feelings, and about past and future events.
And they all participate in interactions with others in which what they do is prompted, responded to, prohibited, or affirmed.
But children in more economically privileged families hear some of these things more often, and other things [such as “No!”] less often, than children in poverty and working–class homes.
The differences between the families ... were not in the kinds of experiences they provided their children but in the differing amounts of those experiences.
The basic finding is that children who learn fewer words also have fewer experiences with words in interactions with other persons, and they are also children growing up in less economically advantaged homes ...
It turns out that frequency matters ... And the finding is heartbreaking that by the time the children were 3 years old, parents in less economically favored circumstances had said fewer different words in their cumulative monthly vocabularies than had the children in the most economically advantaged families in the same period of time.” (Bloom, 1995, pp. xiv–xvii)
The 1991 National Survey of Kindergarten Teachers, conducted by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (Boyer 1991), found that deficiencies in language — certainly associated with literacy — were named most often as the cause of children entering kindergarten not being prepared for school.
The data indicate that nearly half of the teachers who responded to the survey believed that their entering students were less ready than the students that entered their kindergarten classes five years earlier and that they see an average of 35% of the entering kindergartners as “not ready to participate successfully.”
Of the problems or missing skills cited for this lack of readiness — deficiencies in language were considered the most serious problem in 51% and a moderate problem in another 37% of these children who were not ready to learn.
By the end of the last century the number of children entering kindergarten who were experiencing moderate to serious problems in making a successful transition had risen from 35% to 48%.
I don’t believe the numbers are falling or ever will fall while our nation focuses on the testing of school–age children as a measure of school success.
Why are we waiting for children to get to school to begin testing for things we could have taught them years before or, at the very least, provided the early learning necessary to insure success in school?
It is not as if there are no strategies for helping children become fluent and literate. There are evidence–based practices to help adults help children engage in the types of activities that facilitate early literacy learning.
Facilitating Early Literacy Learning
Guided & Paced Literacy Activities
From Lev Vygotsky we know that early learning takes place when children have opportunities to participate in literacy activities that are guided and paced by a more skillful member of the child’s social–cultural world. (1978)
Active Multi–modal Participation
From Jerome Bruner we know that opportunities for learning that enable the child to be an active participant, regardless of the modality being used (e.g., listening, looking, speaking) promote literacy skills. (1983)
Also from Burner we know that opportunities for intimate learning; that is, learning with support from someone who knows the child well enough to make appropriate judgments about when and what the next learning steps should be are essential for successful literacy education.
This knowledge of an individual child is the provenance of a parent or other family caregiver and one of the prime reasons library and family literacy programs are adult and child oriented instead of child–only directed.
Positive Literacy Attitudes
Among the most powerful ways to facilitate early literacy learning is to provide opportunities to acquire positive literacy attitudes through modeling.
Children need opportunities to interact with and observe models who will be most influential for them, especially those models who share similar characteristics with the learner, and whom the learner respects and admires. The importance of acquiring a positive “literacy attitude” is amply demonstrated in much of the emergent literacy literature.
Support for learning that resides not just in families and schools, but across a range of cultural contexts that directly and indirectly influence children’s development is also critical.
We need support systems for kids in every part of their lives — extending the notion of family into the church, the school, and the neighborhood. It is a great shame that some so–called family oriented folks in this nation demonized the notion that “it takes a whole village to raise a child.”
I have always thought (and occasionally said out loud) that no single book can be all things to a child. That is why libraries exist — to provide a wide array of books to meet the needs of a wide array of kids. All kids should be able to find themselves in a book in the library.
In my Children’s Materials course at Dominican this spring, one of my assignments was called Finding Oneself in a Book and it allowed the graduate students to find six books for a particular child and to think about what mattered to that individual and how that child might be reached. It is an exercise worth doing and it is something children’s librarians do every single day they work at the library.
Effective Literature Practices
Children’s early experiences with children’s books are among the most significant correlates with their success in learning to read in school. (Mason and Kerr, 1992; Morrow, 1993)
Interest Level for Children
Specific aspects of these books, such as the interest level for children and ease of understanding and remembering the story, make the experience even more effective. (Brock and Dodd, 1994; Dickinson, et al., 1992; Schickedanz, 1993).
Children are more motivated to request being read to, and to read, “pretend read,” or explore on their own, from books with which they are already familiar or have heard or read before and have enjoyed. There is a positive relationship between how much children have been read to and how well they will read. (Herb, 1987)
Talking About Story
Storybook reading is a more effective influence on literacy development when children have opportunities to engage in conversation about the story. This research–supported finding runs counter to actual preschool storytime practice. How many of us have tried to cut off conversation during storytimes to “get back to the story?” (Mason and Kerr, 1992; Norman–Jackson, 1982; Pellegrini and Galda, 1994).
Playing from Stories
Literacy is enhanced when adults join in with children’s pretend or symbolic play; for example, playing restaurant or playing school. (Norman–Jackson,1982; Pellegrini and Galda, 1994).
Playing with Words
Children benefit most from the opportunity to interact with on–the–spot literacy events in their everyday lives, such as watching for the McDonald’s sign along the highway, finding a correct page in a catalog, or looking at one’s own name on an envelope or name tag (Taylor and Strickland, 1989; Teale, 1995).
Three Habits of Early Readers
There are three things present in the homes of early readers. Kids who travel to school able to read all have three common elements.
- They are read to, and
- There is reading material in the home, and
- Their parents are also seen reading.
What is the one place in the community that already provides services to preschool children? It has the books and other materials required to enhance early literacy learning. It has experts to match children to books and books to children. It provides excellent role models for literature practices and enthusiasm toward books and reading?
A well–trained children’s librarian in a public library is able to put every research–based best practice into action. Have you ever had a physician do something extraordinary for you or your family? You feel an outpouring of gratitude for their skill and the near–miracle they just performed?
In an ideal world, that is how we should view people who have passion for their jobs and perform them well.
In an ideal world the preschool storytime deliverer should be as respected and valued as the brain surgeon. It is that important.
Over 86% of public libraries offer group programs for preschool and kindergarten children, but every public library could offer more sessions, if their budgets permitted. Every public library could spend two hours outside the library for every hour in, and still not make a dent in reaching the kids who will never set foot in the library.
Every Public Library’s Duty
The first step a library must take in serving preschool children well is to proclaim the importance of young patrons in all library business — from building design, to policy formation, to administrative equity in budget distribution and desk staffing patterns, to the conducting of the simplest circulation transaction.
Advocacy for preschool children within the public library’s service mission should include the following persons and elements:
Trained, experienced children’s librarians whose areas of specialty include early childhood education and child development, in addition to the more traditional training in librarianship, children’s book selection, and storytelling.
An administrative spokesperson who represents the views of preschool children and children’s librarians in all administrative, policy, and budget decisions.
Sufficient budget, resources and staff to adequately serve the literacy needs of all of the community’s preschool children, their parents, teachers, and caregivers — those who enter the library building, and those who are unable to visit but still need the library’s resources and the children’s librarian’s skills.
Continuous assessment of the climate of the public library to help ensure the success of its mission of providing equal access to all its services. Barriers to equitable service delivery often develop accidentally because of convenience or tradition. (Herb and Willoughby–Herb, 1994)
Advocacy for preschool children in libraries is not something that develops in a vacuum. It is taught, trained, and modeled at library and information schools that still care about libraries. It is taught at Dominican University. I can’t think of a higher calling for a library school than the responsibility for the next generation of readers and book lovers — and trust me, no matter what shape our information culture takes — the book is still its foundation, especially in the lives of young children.
I am delighted that the Curriculum Committee at the GSLIS has approved my new course, LIS 720: Enhancing Language and Literacy Development in Young Children Through Children’s Literature, to begin this summer. It will provide an opportunity for our graduate students with a strong interest in serving young children to become better acquainted with the methods and means to work more effectively with this critical age group.
Public libraries have demonstrated their dispositions and abilities to collaborate, to be resourceful, to be adaptable, and to work within a range of communities. Public libraries have been, and continue to be, engaged in the best practices known to the early childhood education field while carrying out their commitment to working with children and their families in ongoing programs, as well as seeking out un–served children and their families.
Furthermore, because of their missions to serve all children, as well as their goals for training and recruiting staff, public libraries are unique among public education service providers. The public library is often the only agency poised to reach those children not being reached by various educational programs (e.g., Head Start and early intervention).
I wanted to share information about some successful early literacy initiatives — the kinds of programs that support public libraries, literacy programs, and in the case of one example — villages in Asia and Africa.
Family Literacy Curriculum: Pennsylvania Center for the Book
The first I know most about — the Family Literacy curriculum of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, one of the fifty–one Centers for the Book affiliated with the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book began its second incarnation in 2000 under the sponsorship of the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. In addition to programmatic efforts in poetry for both children and adults and our state sponsorship of the Letters about Literature writing contest, we have also created an online literary and cultural heritage map of Pennsylvania.
The effort closest to my heart is our focus on family literacy. I’m always impressed with the state centers that have book awards and book festivals, but from the start it struck me that awards and festivals will have little lasting meaning without future readers.
We have a strong focus on family literacy including an online curriculum with research foundations, guides for parents and caregivers, book–centered integrated lesson plans, and family fun night programs. See http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/familylit/.
The curriculum is the featured family literacy Web site for the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) in thousands of libraries in all 50 states.
Baker’s Dozen Award: The Thirteen Best Books for Family Literacy
The Pennsylvania Center for the Book’s Baker’s Dozen award was started in 2004 and now in 2012 we are currently working on our ninth annual list. The online award list includes tips for using the books with children and families and appears as a recognized award in the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database. Many agencies in Pennsylvania and the nation are purchasing the books on our annual list for their public and school libraries and for their family literacy centers and programs. See http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/familylit/bakersdozen/2011/index.html.
Established by Kyle Zimmer in the spring of 1992, in recognition of the “central role played by underdeveloped literacy skills in social problems including poverty, hunger, unemployment, drug addition, and crime,” First Book is a nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low–income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. They provide an ongoing supply of new books to children participating in community–based mentoring, tutoring, and family literacy programs. First Book’s model is national in scope and local in impact. In their first year, First Book distributed approximately 12,000 books in three communities. Since that time, First Book has distributed more than eighty–five million books to children in over 3,000 communities around the country and in Canada. See http://www.firstbook.org/.
Born to Read was started in 1995 by Susan Roman, the GSLIS dean, when she was executive director of the Association for Library Service to Children at the American Library Association. A strong product identity and updated book recommendations have helped keep the early literacy advice fresh and the Born to Read sites across the nation active. Often tied to health services and early childhood centers, as well as libraries, Born to Read has always focused on parents and children–at–risk for literacy difficulties. Born to Read was also one of the two health–based emergent literacy models (with the physician–led Reach Out and Read) of the Clinton administration’s Prescription for Reading Partnership begun in 1997. See http://www.ala.org/alsc/issuesadv/borntoread.
Room to Read was founded in 2000 by former Microsoft executive John Wood after discovering the shocking lack of resources for students in Nepal. Room to Read partners with local communities throughout the developing world to establish schools, libraries, and other educational infrastructure. They seek to intervene early in the lives of children in the belief that education is a lifelong gift that empowers people to ultimately improve socioeconomic conditions for their families, communities, countries, and future generations. Through the opportunities that only an education can provide, they strive to break the cycle of poverty, one child at a time. Since their inception in 2000, Room to Read has impacted the lives of over six million children. See http://www.roomtoread.org/.
Every Child Ready to Read was introduced in 2004 by the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children of ALA. Every Child Ready to Read was developed to provide public libraries with vital tools to help prepare parents for their critical role as their child’s first teacher. Based on research from the PLA/ALSC Early Literacy Initiative, the three Every Child Ready to Read® programs target parents and caregivers of children ages: 0–2 years old (Early talkers), 2–3 years old (Talkers), and 4–5 years old (Pre–readers). Since its inception, hundreds of libraries have held programs for parents and caregivers to prepare them to help children get ready to read. The second edition of the materials were released in 2011. See http://www.everychildreadytoread.org/.
I think it is worth pointing out that the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) has existed in various forms and under several names since its founding in 1901, but ALSC’s role as an advocate for the library, literature, and literacy rights of children has never wavered. I am proud to be a member of such a worthy advocacy association.
Looking back on my entire “career” as a student, I remember that no matter what the subject, the most learning took place when I was having the most fun. And, come to think of it, I have always enjoyed teaching best when learners are at play. As I was thinking about this I discovered that I have had fun as a student for twenty–eight years and I have been a librarian, teacher, or professor for the exact same number.
I guess it is time to move on to that next career.
Sadly, we are losing touch with the notion of fun as a learning outcome or play as a methodology in our schools. In a panel presentation last February at Dominican, the Interim Dean of the School of Education, Colleen Reardon, said that in a recent study, 71% of the schools report spending reduced time in all subjects other than math and reading.
In these days where No Child Left Behind has teachers in sharp forced focus on math and reading tests
- to the exclusion of a sounder, broader content;
- to the exclusion of a sensible, integrated curriculum that includes such arcane subjects as social studies, art, music; and
- to the exclusion of finding the fun in learning,
we must remember to play.
Children learn best when they are at play. So do adults. And, even the audience members at an academic lecture at a university.
To conclude tonight, I want to talk to you about a poem called “Sip and Skrat” — it comes from a Danish nursery rhyme translated by N. M. Bodecker in a book called, It’s Raining, Said John Twaining .
The author also happens to be the illustrator of my favorite book from third grade — the one that really changed my life. I loved it so much my third grade teacher gave it to me when she moved on to teach sixth grade.
It is Half Magic by Edward Eager and it is special in so many ways — it is the story of four children: Jane, Kathryn, Mark, and Martha coming home from the public library on a hot summer day with Jane reading aloud from a novel they had checked out together. Each child picked out the maximum number of books permitted, but they also shared some read by eldest Jane.
The book was The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. The kids were lamenting that nothing magical ever happened to them, not like the kids in the book. At that moment they spy a magic talisman that begins to work even before they realize what they have. It delivers only half what one wishes so the adventure has a math gone awry element of comedy running through it as well as great storytelling.
Edward Eager’s inspiration to become a writer — Edith Bland Nesbit — so great an inspiration that he wanted her name to be known through his own work — became a favorite author of mine and eventually led me to others she had influenced — C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, to name two.
A decade ago at the Newbery Caldecott banquet I hosted as president of the Association for Library Service to Children, I had a chance to thank the editor who had brought Mr. Eager and Mr. Bodecker together back in 1954 and who helped change my life through books — the amazing Margaret McElderry, who was in the audience.
Thanks to all who have followed Ms. McElderry’s path in connecting children and books.
1. The lecture opened with a small quiz:
I thought I would start tonight with a brief word game — one shouldn’t be delivering a lecture with the word “literacy” in the title without first pre–testing his audience.
Veriloquent (vair–ill’ o–kwent)
Does it mean?
- speaking truthfully?, or
- female oratorical eloquence, or
- unable to distinguish between truth and falsehood
It is indeed, a — speaking truthfully. I suppose the context of my gender may have stopped a few of you from voting for b?
Does it mean?
- a collector of operatic disasters, or
- honorary title granted to overweight philanthropists, or
- one who will swallow anything
Three it is — one who will swallow anything.
So, my fervent wish tonight is that the Follett lecturer will be veriloquent, but if I fall short of that, may the majority of my audience be grandgousiers.
Those two words actually fell on successive days in my Mrs. Bryne’s Word–a–Day Dictionary of Obscure English, a Christmas stocking gift from my wife Sara. I keep it in my office here and I can’t think of a better way to start the day. They are obscure — here it is, April 23rd and I found uses for only two of the words so far. This next one was my favorite, but I just couldn’t work it in tonight:
Fun word to say, wouldn’t you agree?
But it is the definition I find most intriguing ...
Entertaining a sheriff for three nights.
No wonder that one dropped out of use!
2. At the lecture I had the pleasure of announcing publically for the first time, the pending opening of The Butler Children’s Literature Center that fall of 2008.
The Butler Center commits itself to imagination and wonder, encouraging and supporting adults in libraries, classrooms, childcare centers, and homes to engage young people with good books.
The Butler Children’s Literature Center at Dominican University serves as an examination center for children’s and young adult books published annually in the United States, and as an historical collection of the best children’s and young adult literature published nationally and internationally. It also serves as an evidence–based, best practices professional collection in support of the application and integration of children’s and young adult literature in classrooms, libraries, childcare centers, and homes.
The Butler Center was dedicated on January 10, 2009 in a program featuring Jon Scieszka, the Library of Congress’s Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and that day’s recipient of an honorary doctorate of letters in celebration of Dominican University’s Year of Youth Literacy. Administered by the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the Butler Children’s Literature Center is located in the Rebecca Crown Library, room 214 at Dominican University’s main campus at 7900 West Division Street in River Forest, Illinois. Founding partners at Dominican include the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, the School of Education, the Rebecca Crown Library, the Butler Family Foundation, and an Anonymous Donor. See http://www.dom.edu/butler/index.html.
3. The lecture concluded with an audience participation “telling” of the poem, Sip and Skrat, from It’s Raining Said John Twaining by N. M. Bodecker, the man who had illustrated my favorite book from third grade, Half Magic by Edward Eager.
4. The Newbery/Caldecott banquet that I “hosted” as president of ALSC took place in the Yerba Buena Ballroom of the San Francisco Marriott on June 29, 1997. Margaret McElderry passed away this past February at the age of 98. See http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/in-memoriam-margaret-k-mcelderry/.
Bloom, Lois I. “Foreword” to Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children, by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley, xiii–xvii. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing, 1995.
Bodecker, N. M. It’s Raining, Said John Twaining: Danish Nursery Rhymes. New York: Atheneum, 1973.
Boyer, Ernest L. Ready to Learn: A Mandate for the Nation. Report by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1991.
Brock, Dana R. and Elizabeth Dodd. “A Family Lending Library: Promoting Early Literacy Development.” Young Children 49, no. 3 (March 1994): 16–21.
Bruner, Jerome Seymour. Child’s Talk: Learning to Use Language. New York: W.W. Norton, 1983.
Dickinson, David K., Jean M. DeTemple, Julie Hirschler, and Miriam W. Smith. “Book Reading with Preschoolers: Co–construction of Text at Home and at School.” Early Childhood Research Quarterly 7, no. 3 (September 1992): 323–46.
Eager, Edward. Half Magic. Illustrated by N. M. Bodecker. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954.
Gioia, Dana. To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence. Research Report # 47, 5. Washington, D.C.: National Endowment for the Arts, 2007.
Halliday, Michael. “Learning How to Mean (1975),” in The Language of Early Childhood, Volume 4 in the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday, edited by Jonathan Webster, 28–59. London, England: Continuum, 2004.
Herb, S. L. “The Effects of a Storyhour and Book Borrowing Strategy on Emergent Reading Behavior in First–grade Children.” Ph.D. diss., The Pennsylvania State University, 1987.
Herb, Steven and Sara Willoughby–Herb. “Preschool Education through Public Libraries.” [a commissioned research paper by the United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement under the auspices of the national study: “Assessment of the Role of School and Public Libraries in Support of Educational Reform,” Westat, Inc., 1998–2000]. School Library Media Research Online, 4. http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume42001/herb (accessed December 5, 2011).
——. Using Children’s Books in Preschool Settings. New York: Neal–Schuman, 1994.
Mason, Jana M. and Bonnie M. Kerr. “Literacy Transfer from Parents to Children in the Preschool Years,” in The Intergenerational Transfer of Cognitive Skills, Vol. II: Theory and Research in Cognitive Science, edited by Thomas G. Sticht, Michael J. Beeler, and Barbara A. McDonald, 49–68. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing, 1992.
Morrow, Lesley Mandel. Literacy Development in the Early Years: Helping Children Read and Write. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1993.
Norman-Jackson, Jacquelyn. “Family interactions, Language Development, and Primary Reading Achievement of Black Children in Families of Low Income.” Child Development 53, no. 2 (1982): 349–58.
Pellegrini, A.D. and Lee Galda. “Not by Print Alone: Oral Language Supports for Early Literacy Development,” in Children’s Emergent Literacy: From Research to Practice, edited by D. F. Lancy, 29–40. Westport, CT : Praeger.
Schickedanz, Judith A. “Designing the Early Childhood Classroom Environment to Facilitate Literacy Development,” in Language and Literacy in Early Childhood Education, Yearbook in Early Childhood Education 4, edited by Bernard Spodek and Olivia N. Saracho, 141–155. New York: Teachers College Press, 1993.
Taylor, Denny and Dorothy S. Strickland. “Learning from Families: Implications for Educators and Policy,” in Risk Makers Risk Takers Risk Breakers: Reducing the Risks for Young Literacy Learners, edited by JoBeth Allen and Jana M. Mason, 251–277. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books, 1989.
Teale, William H. “Public Libraries and Emergent Literacy: Helping Set the Foundation for School Success,” in Achieving School Readiness: Public Libraries and National Education Goal No. 1, edited by Barbara Froling Immroth and Viki Ash–Geisler. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.
Vygotsky, Lev Semenovich. Mind in Society, the Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Edited by Michael Cole, Vera John–Steiner, Sylvia Scribner, and Ellen Souberman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.
On the night of my lecture I welcomed the distinguished guests, alumni, colleagues, and students. I also thanked Christopher Traut for his introduction and added my personal thanks to him and to the Follett Corporation for their sponsorship of the chair that brought me to Dominican University on that warm, cozy evening in April. I also pointed out that line had been in my originally scheduled February 6th lecture, but it was meant to be funny at the time. [That lecture was postponed by a wicked blizzard.] I added that I was delighted to be teaching at the excellent Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the outstanding Dominican University.
Today, I also wish to acknowledge the wonderful opportunity the Penn State University Libraries provided in allowing me to serve as the Follett Chair. Thanks also to my Pennsylvania Center for the Book and Education and Behavioral Sciences Library colleagues at the time — Eloise Ingram, Alan Jalowitz, Jenny Litz, Karla Schmit, Caroline Wermuth, and Carol Wright for their sacrifices in carrying on our business during my long absences.
And, to my wife Sara Willoughby–Herb whose inspiration and professional guidance and collaboration were instrumental in the work that led to this lecture. And to my first literacy teacher, my mother, Barbara Herb who passed away a week after this lecture was delivered. My thoughts were with her that night.
About the author
Steven L. Herb is head of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Library and affiliate professor of Language, Culture and Society in the College of Education at Penn State University. Dr. Herb is also the director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. From 2007 to 2010, he held the Follett Chair in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, the third professor to hold the appointment.
Herb’s research interests have focused on early childhood education, in particular, the role of libraries in fostering emergent literacy. He is the co-author of two children’s literature textbooks with his spouse and writing partner, Dr. Sara Willoughby–Herb, professor emerita of early childhood education at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania — Using Children’s Books in Preschool Settings (1994) and Connecting Fathers, Children, and Reading (2002), both published by Neal–Schuman.
Herb is a past president of the Association for Library Service to Children, the division of the American Library Association that has been the leading advocate for the literacy rights and literature choices for America’s children for over a century.
E–mail: slh18 [at] psu [dot] edu