Children's Books

The State of America's Libraries 2016

Rosa, K. (editor) The State of America's Libraries 2016. Chicago, IL: Office for Research and Statistics, American Library Association.

The report shows that libraries of all types add value in five key areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, empowerment and engagement. Local and national studies cited within the report show that libraries are advancing multiple literacies and fostering a digitally inclusive society. Administrators are looking to school librarians to help them digitize education and lead blended learning activities in schools, thus bringing equity, connectivity and personalization to instruction. The value of certified school librarians continues to grow as administrators and teachers seek education resources to better serve tech-savvy students.

Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print

Neumann, S.B. and Moland, N. Book Deserts: The Consequences of Income Segregation on Children’s Access to Print, Urban Education, July 5, 2016  doi:10.1177/0042085916654525

Researchers examine the influence of income segregation on a resource vital to young children’s development: a family’s access to books in early childhood. Income segregation reflects the growing economic segregation of neighborhoods for people living in privilege (1%) compared with those in poverty or near-poverty (20%). After describing recent demographic shifts, we examine access to print for children in six urban neighborhoods. Results indicate stark disparities in access to print for those living in concentrated poverty. We argue that such neighborhoods constitute “book deserts,” which may seriously constrain young children’s opportunities to come to school “ready to learn.”

How Listening Drives Improvement in Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension

Kylie Flynn, Bryan Matlen, Sara Atienza, and Steven Schneider. How Listening Drives Improvement in Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension: A Study of Promise Using Tales2Go (March 2016). San Francisco: WestEd.

WestEd, an educational research nonprofit, conducted this study on the use of audio books in a San Francisco Bay area school district. Students using Tales2go audio books attained 58% of the annual expected gain in reading achievement in just ten weeks, putting them three months ahead of control students. The increase in annual gain corresponds to a 33% improvement in the rate of learning for the period. The study evaluated the effect of just listening (i.e., no paired text). The treatment group outperformed the control group across all measures, by 3.0x in reading comprehension, nearly 7.0x in 2nd grade vocabulary, and nearly 4.0x in reading motivation. Greater impact on reading achievement is possible if Tales2go is used on a regular basis, both in a classroom literacy rotation and at home.

Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition

Scholastic (2015) Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition. New York: NY.

This biannual survey explores the reading attitudes and experiences that most influence children's reading habits, including reading aloud at home, independent reading at school, presence of books in the home, and more. Findings from the 2014 survey show that just over 1,000 children ages 6 to 17, only 31 percent said they read a book for fun almost daily, down from 37 percent four years ago. The report asks what makes children frequent readers, creating two models for predicting children's reading frequency-one each among kids ages 6–11 and 12–17-constructed through a regression analysis of more than 130 data measures from the survey. Across both groups, three powerful predictors that children will be frequent readers include: (1) the child's reading enjoyment; (2) parents who are frequent readers; and (3) the child's belief that reading for fun is important.

Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America

Reading Is Fundamental (May 2015), Read for Success: Combating the Summer Learning Slide in America. Washington, D.C.

This research study set out to test and confirm the efficacy of a new model to reduce summer learning loss in children from economically disadvantaged communities. Researchers found that, on average, 57% of students improved their reading proficiency, instead of 80% of children showing loss.Nearly half of students in third grade — a critical grade for literacy skill building — increased reading proficiency. As part of the study, RIF distributed over 760,000 books to 33,000 children from 173 schools across 16 states. The program included science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) themed books for classrooms and media centers, as well as books for children to select and keep for themselves. RIF also provided training for teachers on how to use the classroom books to support their lessons, gave special resources to parents to help them support their children at home, and every school was given funds to use for further enrichment.

The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning

Jessica L. Montag, Michael N. Jones, and Linda B. Smith. The Words Children Hear: Picture Books and the Statistics for Language Learning, Psychological Science 0956797615594361, August 4, 2015.

Young children learn language from the speech they hear. Previous work suggests that greater statistical diversity of words and of linguistic contexts is associated with better language outcomes. One potential source of lexical diversity is the text of picture books that caregivers read aloud to children. In this study, researchers looked at the language content of 100 popular picture books. In comparing the language in books to the language used by parents talking to their children, the researchers found that the picture books contained more “unique word types.” The text of picture books may be an important source of vocabulary for young children, and these findings suggest a mechanism that underlies the language benefits associated with reading to children.

Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes

Schick, A.R., Melzi, G. Print-related practices in low-income Latino homes and preschoolers’ school-readiness outcomes, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, July 5, 2015. doi: 10.1177/1468798415592009

This study examined literacy practices in the homes of 127 low-income Latino preschoolers enrolled in bilingual preschool classrooms. Researchers investigated the print-related practices that Latino primary caregivers engaged in with their preschool-aged children at the start of the school year and explored the relation between these practices and children’s language, literacy, and social–emotional school-readiness outcomes at the end of the preschool year. The results demonstrate the importance of print – including books and non-book-related environmental print – for Latino preschool children’s development of early literacy and self-regulation skills. In addition, the results highlight that when sharing picture books with their children, low-income Latino caregivers provided the majority of the information to their children, and ask few questions of them, thereby adopting a sole-narrator participatory role.

Fact or Fiction? Children’s Preferences for Real Versus Make-Believe Stories

Barnes, J.L., Bernstein, E., and Bloom, P. Fact or Fiction? Children’s Preferences for Real Versus Make-Believe Stories, Imagination, Cognition and Personality March 2015, vol. 34 no. 3, 243-258.

Some children and adults are more drawn to the imaginary than others. In this study, researchers examined whether developmental differences also play a role in the degree to which individuals are drawn to make-believe stories over real ones (or vice versa). Experiment 1 explored the influence of the factuality of stories — whether or not stories reflect events that had actually happened — on children’s story preferences. Experiment 2 explored the effect of magical versus realistic content on participants’ story preferences. The results suggest that despite the surplus of imaginary activity associated with childhood, young children are not more prone to liking “un-real” stories than adults and may in fact like them less.

Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication

Sosa A. V. Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication. JAMA Pediatr. Published online December 23, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3753.

Researchers gave families three different kinds of toys to play with: books, traditional toys like stacking blocks and a shape sorter, and electronic toys. Results indicated that play with electronic toys is associated with decreased quantity and quality of language input compared with play with books or traditional toys. To promote early language development, play with electronic toys should be discouraged. Traditional toys may be a valuable alternative for parent-infant play time if book reading is not a preferred activity. Blocks and puzzles stimulated more conversation than the electronic toys, and books outscored them all.

Can Readability Formulas Be Used to Successfully Gauge Difficulty of Reading Materials?

Begeny, J. C. and Greene, D. J. (2014), Can Readability Formulas Be Used to Successfully Gauge Difficulty of Reading Materials? Psychology in the Schools, 51: 198–215.

Teachers, parents and textbook companies use technical "readability" formulas to determine how difficult reading materials are and to set reading levels by age group. This study from North Carolina State University shows that the readability formulas are usually inaccurate and offer little insight into which age groups will be able to read and understand a text. In the study, 360 students (grades 2-5) read six written passages out loud. The researchers assessed the students’ performance, giving each student an "oral reading fluency" score, which is considered a good metric for measuring reading ability. The researchers then used eight different readability formulas to see which level each formula gave to the six written passages. Results varied widely, with one passage being rated from first grade to fifth grade level. The levels assigned by the readability formulas were then compared with researchers’ assessments of each student’s actual ability to read the material. Seven of the eight readability formulas were less than 49 percent accurate, with the worst formula scoring only 17 percent accuracy. The highest-rated formula was accurate 79 percent of the time.

The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children

Naidoo, Jamie C. The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children, adopted by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) on April 5, 2014.

This white paper explores the critical role libraries play in helping children make cross-cultural connections and develop skills necessary to function in a culturally pluralistic society. The paper calls for libraries to include diversity in programming and materials for children as an important piece in meeting the informational and recreational needs of their community. The white paper also includes a comprehensive list of diversity resources, online collection development resources, awards for culturally diverse children’s literature, multicultural children’s program resources and more.

Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development

Dunst, Carl J.; Simkus, Andrew; Hamby, Deborah W. (2012). Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development. CELLreviews 5(4), Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.

The effects of reading to infants and toddlers were examined in a meta-analysis of six intervention studies including 408 participants. Results indicated that interventions were effective in promoting the children's expressive and receptive language. The benefits of the interventions increased the earlier the interventions were started and the longer they were implemented. Implications of the findings for research and practice are described.

Repeated Book Reading and Preschoolers' Early Literacy Development

Trivette, C. M., Simkus, A., Dunst, C.J., Hamby, D.W. (2012). Repeated book reading and preschoolers’ early literacy development. CELL reviews, 5 (5).

The effects of repeated book reading on children's early literacy and language development were examined in this meta-analysis of 16 studies including 466 child participants. Results indicated that repeated book reading influenced both story-related vocabulary and story-related comprehension. Findings also showed that the adults' use of manipulatives or illustrations related to the story, positive reinforcement of children's comments, explanation concerning the story when asked, and open-ended questions to prompt child verbal responses were associated with positive child outcomes. Implications for practice are described.

Increasing Young Children's Contact with Print During Shared Reading: Longitudinal Effects on Literacy Achievement

Piasta, S.B., Justice, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children's contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810-820.

This study examined the impact of Project STAR (Sit Together and Read) on literacy skills of preschool students. Project STAR is a program in which teachers read books aloud to their students and use instructional techniques designed to encourage children to pay attention to print within storybooks. Results of the study indicated a causal relationship between early print knowledge and later literacy skills.

Print Books vs. E-books

Chiong, C., Ree, J., & Takeuchi, L. (2012). Print books vs. e-books. Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

This initial small-scale study explored parent–child interactions as they read print and digital books together. How do adults and children read e-books compared to print books? How might the nature of parent-child conversations differ across platforms? Which design features of e-books appear to support parent-child interaction? Do any features detract from these interactions?

Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten

Rodriguez, Eileen; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S. (2011) Trajectories of the Home Learning Environment Across the First 5 Years: Associations With Children's Vocabulary and Literacy Skills at Prekindergarten. Child Development 82(4).

A study that looked at the home environments of more than 1,850 children from households at or below the federal poverty line showed that factors such as levels of shared reading, exposure to frequent and varied adult speech, and access to children's books had an impact on school readiness skills. "As a parent, it is never too early to engage your child in learning," said Amber Story, a social psychologist and deputy director of the National Science Foundation's Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, which funded the study. "This research suggests that the degree to which parents read and talk to their infant; point and label objects in the environment; and provide engaging books and toys when their child is only 15 months old can have long-lasting effects on the infant's language skills years later."

Text Matters in Learning to Read

Heibert, E.H. (1999). Text matters in learning to read (Distinguished Educators Series). Reading Teacher, 52, 552-566. Retrieved June 28, 2005, from CIERA Rep. No. 1-001.

This report examines texts based on high-frequency and phonetically regular words as well as the trade books of current literature-based reading programs. It considers each type of text by examining the task it poses for beginning readers. What does a beginning reader need to know about written English to be successful with a particular type of text? What will a beginning reader learn about text if consistently presented with a particular type of text? From a task perspective, consistent reading of particular types of texts can be likened to a diet where children eat particular food groups but not others. Through experiences with particular texts, children may be acquiring some nutrients (or skills) and not others. This article addresses the diets provided to beginning readers by different instructional texts. To paraphrase Allington (1994), the three sections of the paper deal with (a) the texts used, (b) the texts had, and (c) the texts needed.

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl