Chandler Public Library has been awarded a $78,000 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Early Literacy Grant for its High Five Early Literacy and Learning Spaces project. The goal of the project is to provide interactive early literacy and learning spaces that promote family engagement and encourage children’s development and early literacy skills. The grant was approved by Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State.
According to data from Read On Arizona and the Arizona Department of Education, there are nearly 35,000 children between the ages of 0 and 5 in the Chandler Unified and Kyrene school districts – the school districts served by Chandler Public Library. The Chandler Public Library is an integral provider for early childhood development in the community.
Two organizations dedicated to improving early childhood literacy, Read On Arizona and First Things First, estimate that nearly 40 percent of incoming kindergartners nationwide enter school without the basic language skills they need to learn to read. Similarly, a United Way study shows that in some areas of Chandler that number is as high as 70 percent. Libraries in Chandler have the opportunity to help turn those numbers around.
With the LSTA grant, the Library’s goal is to improve existing areas designed for children and their caregivers located in all four Chandler libraries. The enriched environments will focus on literacy and learning with activities and elements fostering child and caregiver interaction through play. The children, parents, and caregivers who participate in the Chandler Library’s programs will benefit by experiencing early literacy learning through play spaces that focus on the five early literacy skills: read, play, write, sing, and talk. These skills promote emergent literacy proficiency essential to school readiness in children. The early literacy spaces will be open during regular business hours, allowing caregivers and children flexible access to learning opportunities.
“Play is how children learn about their world and acquire the skills necessary for critical thinking. Children who enter school with well-developed early literacy skills have an advantage,” said Chandler Youth Services Librarian Debe Moreno. “The library is dedicated to sharing this information with families. We believe that developing Early Literacy Spaces is the best approach because it allows us to offer learning opportunities to children, empower parents, and benefit the community through sustainable, flexible, welcoming spaces while efficiently using buildings and staff we already have.”
Chandler Library’s mission is to be the best public library by knowing their customers’ needs and working together as a team to providing excellent service. “These early literacy spaces will help meet the needs of our customers with small children,” said Library Manager Dan Lee. “We want them to be destination spots in the community for families to practice early literacy skills. We’ve also enhanced our Storytime programs – offering two new programs that build on school readiness skills – and the Early Literacy Spaces project will physically compliment what we are doing in our programs.”
In 2017, the Arizona State Library received about $3.2 million under the LSTA, which is administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Arizona libraries received $800,000 awarded on a competitive basis. The remaining funds are used to support statewide services, including family literacy and reading programs, electronic databases, digital government initiatives, continuing education classes, and other programs.
“Libraries are community centers that address diverse needs, including employment and economic development, civic engagement, and human services,” said Secretary of State Michele Reagan, whose office oversees the State Library. “It is an honor to assist libraries to transform to meet the needs of the community.”
For more information about the Chandler Public Library and early literacy programs and resources, visit chandlerlibrary.org/age-0-5 or call 480-782-2800.