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Family Place Libraries
FINE Newsletter, Volume VIII, Issue 3
Issue Topic: Family Engagement in Children’s Learning Through Libraries
A toddler is at the sink filling a kettle with water for tea while his preschool sister sets the table, taking great care to ensure the colors of the plates, cups, and spoons all match. Across the room, a mom counts the cardboard blocks her 18-month-old is stacking and cheers as he uses his whole body to knock them down. Nearby, a 3-year-old and his dad are at the train table pushing and pulling the cars over and under the bridges; a family is reading and acting out We’re Going on a Bear Hunt while a friendly librarian models for a caregiver how to share a book with an infant; standing near book stacks, a librarian provides information on early intervention services for a parent concerned about her child’s development. These are typical scenes in a Family Place Library.
|------||Digital media are an important component of early childhood library collections. Middle Country Library’s digital media spaces are designed intentionally so that families and children can explore apps together.
|Middle Country Library brings learning outdoors
through the Nature Explorium, where children can
garden, build, draw, and experiment with water.
|Family Place Libraries promote parent-child
relationships by giving parents and children access
to developmentally appropriate toys and activities,
and by modeling ideas and ways parents can use
materials to encourage children’s learning.
|Family Place Libraries staff provide training
for librarians and community educators in a variety
of topics, including family support, child
development, coalition building and outreach.
Family Place Libraries is a nationwide network of librarians who are trained in the Family Place Library approach, which builds on the knowledge that good health, early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in young children’s growth and development. Currently in more than 450 libraries in 29 states, Family Place Libraries provide rich, engaging opportunities for anytime, anywhere learning for very young children and their parents and caregivers.
THE CORE COMPONENTS OF FAMILY PLACE LIBRARIES
Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, New York (Long Island), serves as the national model and training center for Family Place Libraries. Staff from each Family Place site participate in a comprehensive Training Institute and receive post-training support in implementing and sustaining this initiative. Core components of Family Place Libraries are listed below. While each of these components is important on its own, the Family Place Libraries model strives to weave them together into one coherent and comprehensive system.
Findings from independent evaluations, as well as from internal reports and surveys, show that the Family Place model makes a difference for children, families, and libraries themselves.
Whether located in urban, suburban, or rural communities, Family Place Libraries become vital community centers. They build connections among community families, support the role of parents and caregivers as children’s first teachers, provide rich opportunities for anytime, anywhere learning, increase chances for successful early intervention, and foster a lifelong love of reading and learning. One dad’s comment after participating in Family Place Libraries activities captures what many parents have communicated about their experiences, “This changed my relationship with my child, with other children, and other parents. I’m so grateful.”
Kathleen Deerr is the national coordinator for Family Place Libraries. She has presented at numerous library and early childhood conferences, authored books and articles including the Family-Centered Library Handbook, and trained over 600 librarians in implementing research-based early childhood and family support library services.
Margaret Caspe is a senior research analyst with Harvard Family Research Project.
This resource is part of the August 2016 FINE Newsletter. The FINE Newsletter shares the newest and best family engagement research and resources from Harvard Family Research Project and other field leaders. To access the archives of past issues, please visit www.hfrp.org/FINENewsletter. To subscribe to the FINE Newsletter, please visit our subscription center.
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