Welcome to Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR)
Download the PDF
The updated and expanded second edition of Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) provides a new curriculum and materials to help parents and other caregivers develop early literacy skills in children from birth to age five.
Developing early literacy skills has a long-term impact on children’s reading achievement and academic success. Public libraries’ essential role in supporting early literacy has never been more important
Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition provides librarians, early childhood specialists, preschool teachers, childcare providers, and others with research-based practices that can help young children develop skills they need before they can learn to read. The anual includes information and workshop presentations to help you learn more about early literacy, workshop presentations with learning experiences for parents and children, handouts to reinforce workshop content, and strategies for partnering with other organizations to help every child in your community get ready to read.
Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Dr. Donna Celano—leading researchers, early literacy and reading experts, and educators—guided the development of Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition. More information about Dr. Neuman and Dr. Celano appears on page 4 of this section.
How to Get Started
Read the Introduction to Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) 2nd Edition, which provides:
- Background information about the first and second editions of Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library®
- Findings from research that form the basis for Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition
- The easy-to-use but powerful five early literacy practices that parents and caregivers can use to develop children’s early literacy skills
- An overview of each workshop in Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition
View the Staff Workshop PowerPoint presentation, which also includes background information and an introduction to the Every Child Ready to Read® Parent Workshop.
Preview the other ECRR workshops and the handouts that are available to support workshop content. A copy of the PowerPoint slides and notes for each workshop is included in the Manual. The Manual CD has the PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and other materials and resources.
Save the contents of the Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition CD to your Intranet or copy the contents to your computer desktop or an external hard drive. Keep the CD as the master copy.
Decide whether to customize slides with your library name, logo, and other information. Examples of how slides can be customized appear in the Manual sections with the PowerPoint slides.
Review other information, including technical information about using the PowerPoints and ideas for marketing Every Child Ready to Read®. For easier handling, place the Manual in a 3-ring binder. An insert for the cover and spine of a binder is included. For additional information and resources, go to www.everychildreadytoread.org.
Every Child Ready to Read® is a project of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Public Library Association (PLA), divisions of the American Library Association. ALSC and PLA have developed early literacy materials and programs to help every child become a successful reader. Copyright 2011 by ALSC/PLA, divisions of the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron, Chicago, IL 60611
Overview of Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition Workshops
Download the PDF
The eight workshops in Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition are:
- Library Staff
- Fun for Parents and Children
- Fun with Letters for Parents and Children
- Fun with Words for Parents and Children
- Fun with Science and Math for Parents and Children
- Early Literacy Environment for Library Staff
- Community Partners
Each workshop is presented in a PowerPoint format. PowerPoint slides include notes that cover the most important points to make as part of the presentation.
The workshops are designed to be flexible. Presenters can customize workshops in the following ways:
- Vary the length by adding or deleting slides.
- Incorporate or substitute different activities or materials. Include photos of your library, as well as the library’s URL, phone numbers, and other specific information.
- Combine workshops to expand content and extend the learning opportunity
A brief description of each workshop appears below. More detailed information can be found in the introduction and instruction sheet for presenters, which precedes each PowerPoint presentation included in the Manual.
Library Staff Workshop
This workshop introduces staff to Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition. Background information, an overview of updated early literacy research, an introduction to the five early literacy practices, and a preview of the Parent Workshop are included. The workshop can be used as a large group or small group learning activity; it also may be viewed individually as a tutorial. It lasts 45–55 minutes.
Parents, grandparents, and other caregivers learn why it’s important for children to get ready to read starting at birth and the essential role of parents and other caregivers in developing early literacy skills. Participants learn how to use the five early literacy practices to nurture early literacy skills. The workshop includes discussion, demonstration, and activities. Handouts include “Get Ready to Read at Home” about creating an effective and affordable early literacy environment at home. This workshop, which lasts 50–55 minutes, is for adults only.
Fun for Parents and Children Workshop
Parents and other caregivers, along with children, engage in talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing activities that develop early literacy skills. This introduction to the five early literacy practices is for children from birth to age five and lasts 45–50 minutes.
Fun with Letters for Parents and Children Workshop
The workshop also can be presented to adults only. It can be combined with the Parent, Fun with Words, and Fun with Science and Math workshops to expand the content and extend the learning experience.
Fun with Words for Parents and Children Workshop
Parents and caregivers learn to use the five early literacy practices to help increase children’s vocabulary and comprehension skills. Adults and children enjoy storytelling, book sharing, and other activities. The workshop is recommended for children ages two to five and lasts about 45 minutes.
The workshop also can be presented to adults only. It can be combined with the Parent, Fun with Letters, and Fun with Science and Math workshops to expand the content and extend the learning experience.
Fun with Science and Math for Parents and Children Workshop
This workshop for parents and children taps into children’s natural curiosity to increase their background or general knowledge. The more general knowledge children have, the better prepared they are to understand what they read. Parents learn strategies for engaging young scientists and mathematicians in learning activities. The workshop is recommended for children ages two to five and lasts about 45 minutes.
The workshop also can be presented to adults only. It can be combined with the Parent, Fun with Letters, and Fun with Words workshops to expand the content and extend the learning experience.
Early Literacy and Learning Spaces Workshop for Staff
The physical environment impacts children’s early literacy and learning experiences. This workshop for library staff focuses on the design and arrangement of library spaces for young children. Building on research and best practices, design principles are explored. The workshop is intended to facilitate conversation about how library spaces can support and encourage young children as they engage in the five early literacy practices. The workshop lasts 45–55 minutes.
Community Partners Workshop
Potential community partners are introduced to early literacy principles, the importance of helping children get ready to read before they begin school, the role of parents and caregivers, the basics of Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition, and how the public library helps parents and caregivers prepare children for reading and school success. The goal is to begin a conversation with organizations that may join with your library to help every child get ready to read. The workshop and discussion may last 45–90 minutes, depending on the number of potential partners in attendance and their interest in developing partnerships.
Background Information about Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® Initiative
Download the PDF
Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library® addresses a critical need
In 2000, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Public Library Association (PLA) responded to a national need. A number of research studies, including the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress, found that a significant percentage of children were entering kindergarten without the early literacy skills needed to learn to read.
ALSC and PLA entered into a conversation about how public libraries could address this critical concern. Because they serve children for years before they begin school, public libraries have many opportunities to provide early literacy and learning experiences. To have an even greater impact on these formative years, ALSC and PLA partnered with national researchers, leading educational experts, and organizations that serve young children to develop Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) @ your library®. By beginning in the years before school, this early literacy initiative helps prepare children for reading success in kindergarten and first grade, which lays a foundation for future reading achievement.
Every Child Ready to Read® is a parent education initiative.
Traditionally, early literacy programs at libraries have focused on children. Storytimes and other programs might model strategies that parents can use to develop early literacy skills, but parent education is not typically the primary intent.
ALSC and PLA concluded that public libraries could have an even greater impact on early literacy through an approach that focused on educating parents and caregivers. If the primary adults in a child’s life can learn more about the importance of early literacy and how to nurture pre-reading skills at home, the effect of library efforts can be multiplied many times.
Teaching parents and other caregivers how to support the early literacy development of their children was the basis for the first edition of Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library®. The focus on educating parents and caregivers was a significantly different approach for many libraries, but one that has proven its value since the first edition of Every Child Ready to Read® was introduced in 2004.
Every Child Ready to Read® is research based.
The Every Child Ready to Read® curriculum is grounded in early literacy research, which has guided the content of both the first and second editions. The curriculum is based on tested, research-based principles and best practices from exemplary early literacy programs.
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. - Emilie Buchwald
Every Child Ready to Read® is a project of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association. www.everychildreadytoread.org
New Research has been incorporated into Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition.
Download the PDF
Constrained and Unconstrained Skills
The presentation of the five early literacy practices in ECRR 2nd Edition is transformed by new research that embodies a richer understanding of early literacy.
In 2006, Dr. Scott Paris’s research identified two key components in children’s reading success. The first is “decoding print,” or understanding that letters represent the sounds in words. The second is a broad set of skills embodied in “comprehension” or understanding that words have certain meanings. Paris called these constrained and unconstrained skills, respectively. (See page 68 of this section for a reference to this research.)
Decoding (constrained skills) and comprehension (unconstrained skills) differ in the following significant ways.
Print awareness, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness are constrained skills that help children decode print. Children must learn constrained skills in order to read, but these skills have a fixed endpoint. Once these skills are completely acquired, there is not further improvement.
Constrained skills develop over a limited timespan, although there is wide variability in when young children master these skills. For instance, there is a wide range in the mastery of letter knowledge for children ages two to four years, but by age six almost all children have achieved mastery. Constrained skills are required in order to learn to read. However, being able to decode print but not comprehend its meaning has little value.
Unconstrained skills continue to develop over a lifetime. There is no end-point to improving vocabulary or comprehension. These skills take longer to learn; children will start out slowly and accelerate over time. Readers continue to get better and better, but there is no point at which learning these skills comes to an end.
These skills are predictors of reading achievement
Decoding skills such as phonological awareness and letter names are the strongest predictors of early reading success. These constrained skills are highly predictive of immediate success in kindergarten. Yet if these are the only skills children acquire, they will likely struggle in learning to read.
Vocabulary and comprehension, the unconstrained skills, are the foundational skills that children need to become proficient readers. These skills also determine whether children will become proficient learners. As children progress through school, they increasingly use vocabulary and comprehension skills to understand complex texts in all subject areas. In other words, they use reading to learn.
Libraries have helped many generations of children develop unconstrained reading skills. The importance of these skills is given new emphasis in Every Child Ready to Read® 2nd Edition.
A Reminder: Research confirms the importance of using a parent’s home language.
Some parents may speak a language other than English to their children. Parents and caregivers should use the language they know best when engaging their children in the five practices. This allows them to explain information and ideas more fluently. A family’s home language is important and can serve as a wonderful base on which to build and extend children’s language and literacy experiences.
Building on Success
Download the PDF
In 2008, a joint ALSC/PLA Task Force was created to evaluate the first edition of Every Child Ready to Read® (ECRR) @ your library®. In 2009, Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Dr. Donna Celano, leading educators and researchers in the field of early literacy, were commissioned to evaluate the program in order to:
- Measure the impact of Every Child Ready to Read® and evaluate whether to make changes based on feedback from surveys, as well as interviews of users and nonusers.
- Conduct an extensive literature review and determine whether ECRR workshops should be modified based on current research.
- Make recommendations about updating workshops.
After a careful review of the evaluation, the ALSC/PLA Task Force recommended that Dr. Neuman be selected to update the ECRR curriculum by incorporating new research and suggestions from both users and nonusers of the first edition of ECRR. The result is the new and expanded second edition of Every Child Ready to Read® @ your library®.
Lessons from ECRR 1st Edition
The evaluation conducted by Dr. Neuman and Dr. Celano found that ECRR was well regarded and considered to be a high-quality product that has an impact on parent behavior. The evaluation found that ECRR was successful in its goal of educating parents and caregivers at libraries and through outreach. Both users and nonusers regarded the materials as well done, and library staff appreciated the training that had been developed for presenters. Those surveyed credited ECRR with reinforcing the public perception of libraries as an early literacy resource. They also said that ECRR provided the chance to strengthen existing and forge new partnerships with community organizations that support early literacy and learning.
Recommendations incorporated into ECRR 2nd Edition
The evaluation of the first edition of ECRR revealed opportunities to create an even stronger curriculum. The second edition of Every Child Ready to Read® incorporates the following recommendations from the evaluation:
- Workshops are based on updated literature reviews and research.
- Workshops and materials use less educational jargon.
- Workshops present strategies for developing pre-reading skills within the framework of five early literacy practices: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. The practices help parents teach the six skills from ECRR 1st Edition. (Information about the six skills appears on page 5 of this section.) However, the five practices are more familiar to parents and caregivers, which makes them easier to use and integrate into everyday life.
- The five practices reflect research that says not all reading skills are equal. Some skills, such as learning letter names, are “constrained.” Once a child learns the name of the letter “A” and recognizes its different forms, he or she doesn’t need to learn any more about that letter name. Other skills are “unconstrained,” such as vocabulary. Learning the meaning of words is something that continues throughout life.
- ECRR 2nd Edition emphasizes the importance of vocabulary, background knowledge, and comprehension, which are the unconstrained skills that children continue to learn throughout their school years.
- The importance of a stimulating learning environment also is highlighted. Children learn early literacy skills by interacting with adults and also by interacting with their physical surroundings. Attributes of supportive early literacy and learning environments are described.
- Much of the workshop content applies to children from birth to age five, since the five early literacy practices can be used with children of different ages.
- Workshop content is provided through PowerPoint presentations. The presentations include talking points rather than a script for workshop presenters. The talking points help guide the presentation, discussion, and activities.
- Workshop formats are modular, which provides greater flexibility. Workshops can be combined to expand the content and extend the learning experience. Presenters have the option to incorporate or substitute different activities based on their resources and audience. PowerPoints also can be customized with photos and other information specific to a library.
- Handouts that correlate to the five early literacy practices and booklists for each practice are provided as .pdfs or Word documents.
ECRR 2nd Edition is based on the same principles as the first edition.
The beliefs underlying the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read® remain the same.
- Reading is an essential life skill.
- Learning to read begins at birth.
- Parents and caregivers are a child’s first and best teachers.
- Lifelong learning is a primary role of the public library; public libraries need to support parents and caregivers as they develop early literacy skills in children from birth to age five.
- Every Child Ready to Read® is a parent education initiative that provides skills and strategies parents and caregivers can use to help children get ready to read.
Susan B. Neuman, Ed.D., is a Professor in Educational Studies at the University of Michigan specializing in early literacy development. Previously, she served as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education. At Michigan, she has directed the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA), focusing on early childhood policy, curriculum, and early reading instruction for pre-kindergarten through third grade.
Dr. Neuman has written extensively on early literacy and learning. Her latest books include the Handbook of Early Literacy Research Volume 3 (2011) and Preparing Teachers for the Early Childhood Classroom (2010). She also wrote Changing the Odds for Children at Risk (2009); Nurturing Knowledge: Building a foundation for school success by linking early literacy to math, science, art and social studies (with Kathy Roskos; 2007); and A Parent’s Guide to Reading With Your Child (with Tanya Wright; 2007). She has written more than 100 peer-reviewed articles for professional journal.
Donna Celano, Ph.D., is currently Assistant Professor of Communication at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Previously, she served as Assistant Professor of Communication at Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia. Dr. Celano’s research focuses on low- and middle income children’s access to books and computers. Previous projects include evaluations of summer reading and preschool programs; the Major Libraries Urban Grant, a study of branch library renovations and their influences on children’s access to books and technology; and Books Aloud, a “book flood,” incorporating parent education and teacher training in Philadelphia childcare centers. Her research on low income children’s access and use of information resources has appeared during the past year in Educational Leadership, Teacher’s College Record, and Phi Delta Kappan.
Dr. Neuman and Dr. Celano co-authored the report, “The Role of Public Libraries in Children’s Early Literacy Development” (Pennsylvania Library Association, 2001) as well as other articles and editorials about early literacy.
From the Six Skills (in ECRR 1st Edition) to the Five Practices (in ECRR 2nd Edition)
Download the PDF
The first edition of Every Child Ready to Read® incorporated the six-skills framework based on the work of Dr. G. C. Whitehurst and Dr. C. J. Lonigan. The skills presented in ECRR 1st Edition were:
- Print awareness
- Letter knowledge
- Phonological awareness
- Narrative skills
- Print motivation
The evaluation of ECRR 1st Edition by Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Dr. Donna Celano, researchers and early literacy experts, found that a majority of users wanted simplified terminology. In ECRR 2nd Edition, the more academic jargon of the six skills is replaced with five simple but powerful practices that parents and caregivers can use to help young children get ready to read. These five practices are incorporated into the Every Child Ready to Read® workshops and supporting materials. They can easily be integrated into everyday activities to help children learn early literacy skills.
Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. The experience of self-expression also stimulates brain development, which underlies all learning.
Singing—which also includes rhyming—increases children’s awareness of and sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to decode print (written language).
Reading together, or shared reading, remains the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers.
Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.
Play is one of the primary ways young children learn about the world. General knowledge is an important literacy skill that helps children understand books and stories once they begin to read.
The five early literacy practices in ECRR 2nd Edition support the six skills from the first edition.
Talking with children helps develop all six skills featured in ECRR 1st Edition: print awareness, letter knowledge, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, and print motivation.
Singing and rhyming are especially effective at developing letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and vocabulary.
Reading also helps children learn all six skills featured in ECRR 1st Edition.
Writing helps children learn about print, letters, phonological awareness, vocabulary, and narrative skills.
Play is a way children can learn all six skills from ECRR 1st Edition.