CLEVELAND — An old program at the Cleveland Public Library is getting revamped, bringing services and literacy training to early childhood education sites.
The program is called “On the Road to Reading,” and after a new grant funded by the Ohio Department of Education, it’s becoming mobile. Librarians and aides will now be bringing mobile services and learning to early childhood education sites like preschools, daycares and pediatric settings.
Tracy Martin, the Director of Development at Cleveland Public Library believes it’s the education of the staff that makes all the difference. “The librarians really know the exciting books, the board books, the new books, the pop up books, things like that. That are really age appropriate and culturally appropriate for kids - it makes reading exciting” Martin said.
According to the non-profit Begin to Read, one out of every four children are unable to read.
More often, children in the 4th grade are hitting what’s known as the “watershed year,” where experts predict if a child is not reading proficiently – they will have a nearly 80% chance of not catching up.
The question becomes: what can we do to help? Martin says it starts at home.
“The first thing is reading yourself, kids who see adults reading will be more interested in reading. Also, having books in your house, whether they’re your books or library books, having those in the home makes you more likely to read and you will read. And it doesn't have to be books… it can be comic books, you can be reading a newspaper, you can be reading a magazine. It’s just so important to read” Martin said.
Often illiteracy can be generational and some homes have people who never learned to read themselves, making helping one another nearly impossible.
Martin says that’s where the Cleveland Public Library comes to help.
“The library has resources for kids and audiences of all ages and the best resource is our staff," she explains. "Talking to our staff they’ve helped me with my kids and helping me pick out what’s going to be interesting for them to read. Reading levels, sometimes you might be reading a book that’s a young adult book - and that’s okay because it’s finding something that’s interesting to you and that you’re comfortable with that makes you want to keep picking up a book or a magazine to keep reading it."
Acting on the belief that reading is foundational to everything that we do, Martin adds that the “On the Road to Reading” program will be helping target young children to help them learn to love reading.
“What we want to happen for this program is to really ensure that young children are prepared to enter kindergarten. So that when they start on their academic career in school that they’re ready” she says.
Editor's Note: Both videos in this story are from previous, unrelated stories involving Cleveland Public Library