Delivering the Best Start

Nov 2008 | 192pp

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Delivering the Best Start
A guide to early years libraries

Carolynn Rankin and Avril Brock

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is now statutory in the UK for children from birth to five years, and other countries are experiencing similar developments; early years librarians, teachers, nursery nurses, playgroup leaders and childminders all require knowledge of how to promote and encourage communication, language and literary skills. Parental reading with young children is clearly vitally important, and libraries are uniquely placed to support the development of literacy skills in pre-school children.

This book provides an understanding of how children develop such skills through enjoyable and meaningful learning experiences, and is a pioneering practical guide for library and information professionals involved in planning and delivering services in early years libraries. Drawing on the authors' underpinning contemporary research and examples from current best practice, it will equip practitioners with a broad range of knowledge and ideas. Key areas covered include:

  • take them to the library: the role of the early years professional
  • people and partnerships: working across interdisciplinary boundaries, and how to involve parents and carers
  • buildings, design and space: the children's libraries of the future
  • resources for early years libraries: books, toys and other delights
  • reaching your audience: the librarian's role
  • planning and organizing: projects and reading sessions.  

User-friendly and accessible, each chapter is clearly structured and sets outs the key issues for practitioners, scenarios offering insights into these, and practical ideas and resources for service provision. The book also includes case studies of successful pre-school library initiatives in a variety of global settings, useful information about relevant organizations, and links to helpful websites.

This valuable text is essential reading for all library and information professionals working with young children - whether those with responsibility for the strategic planning of services, or those involved in delivering them at community level.

Readership: Essential for students of library and information studies or childhood studies, and practitioners undertaking NVQ qualifications, it also provides a sound background in early years literacy and provision for a range of local authority practitioners, such as nursery teachers and Children's Centre managers.

1. Take them to the library – setting the scene

  • Introduction
  • An overview of early childhood services
  • Literacy is a human right
  • The role of the public library in supporting young children
  • The role of early years librarians 
  • Policy and partnerships: Sure Start children’s centres
  • The early years library: creating the right environment
  • What practitioners need to know about young children
  • Reading – making sense of those funny little squiggles
  • Reading as a social activity
  • Reading and storytelling activities in the early years library
  • Conclusion: helping to create positive experiences and memories in your library 
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember
  • Useful organizations  

2. People and partnerships, skills and knowledge

  • Introduction
  • How to develop a family-friendly service – breaking down barriers to library use 
  • Know your community – library standards and impact measures 
  • Developing effective partnerships – with other professionals and partner organizations 
  • Partnerships – encouraging parents and carers to get involved
  • Involving fathers
  • Involving grandparents
  • The home learning environment
  • Reaching families with low literacy – The Vital Link approach
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember
  • Useful organizations  

3. Buildings, design and space

  • Introduction
  • Why should early years librarians be concerned about architecture and design?
  • First impressions – the challenge
  • The library as a community space
  • The importance of the environment and space
  • Architecture and design – planning and designing spaces for the children’s libraries of the future 
  • Design is important
  • The role of the client – consultation opportunities
  • Room planning – some things to consider
  • Book display
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Carpets and soft furnishings
  • Signage and guiding
  • Storage
  • Stimulation, mood and sound
  • Refreshing spaces – making a tired space into something better
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember
  • Useful organizations  

4. Resources for early years libraries – books, toys and other delights

  • Introduction
  • Collection development and management
  • The early years collection
  • How do you do it? Guidelines for book selection
  • Selecting books for the early years collection
  • Selecting dual-language books for the bilingual child
  • Selecting books for young boys
  • Selecting books for children with special educational needs
  • Selecting books for the parenting collection
  • Other resources in the early years library
  • Selecting videos and DVDs
  • Selecting audio tapes and CDs
  • Music resources – opportunities for listening and participation
  • Computer programs for young children
  • Sources of information for early years stock selection
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember

5. Reaching your audience – the librarian’s role

  • Introduction
  • Providing a welcoming atmosphere
  • Introducing a love of books to babies, young children, parents and families 
  • Using treasure baskets with babies
  • Using picture books
  • Rhyme times
  • Musical sessions – communicating through making music
  • Stories and storytelling
  • Families sharing stories
  • Stories in other languages – supporting the bilingual learner
  • Strategies for sharing stories with children – the librarian as performer
  • Puppets
  • Reaching ‘hard to reach’ audiences
  • Promotion and campaigns in early years libraries
  • A look elsewhere – early years activities in other countries
  • Final comments
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember
  • Useful organizations  

6. Planning

  • Introduction
  • Organizational planning – strategic, tactical, operational
  • SMART objectives
  • The challenges of partnership work – planning shared objectives
  • Planning and organizing projects
  • Planning budgets and money matters in the early years library
  • Planning library sessions
  • Planning and evaluation
  • Personal development planning – managing your own CPD
  • The reflective practitioner
  • Issues and questions
  • Key points to remember
  • Final comments

"This book is an excellent tool for librarians and other practitioners in this field...I commend this book."
- Update

"This book will help anyone working with young people or training to do so gain an understanding into the way these skills can be developed in an informative and fun manner…It is ideal for students starting out on a professional career in library and information studies and planning to work with young children. It is essential reading for any professional delivering teaching to these students."

Carolynn Rankin worked for 20 years in special and academic library and information services before moving into professional education in 2000, most recently as a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences at Leeds Metropolitan University. She is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and External Examiner for the CILIP Qualifications Board. 

Dr Avril Brock is a Principal Lecturer in the Carnegie Faculty at Leeds Metropolitan University. She teaches in the School of Education and Childhood on a range of Postgraduate and Undergraduate Early Childhood Education courses.

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