Many families have significant challenges to providing all that their children need to develop into healthy and successful adults. Low income, language barriers, lack of social supports, lack of awareness of available resources combine to create pockets in our community where exposure to early literacy skills and academic success is difficult to achieve.
Here is an overview of the Library programs that the Friends of HCL have helped support during the last three years that foster early literacy and academic success for children in our community:
Story Time. Story Time programs are an opportunity for parents to introduce children to reading and language in a fun way. At Story Time, children have an opportunity to do activities that promote development and learning. All programs are designed for parents or care givers to participate with their children. Each year, the Library hosted more than 3,100 story times, which were attended by 52,000 children, 36,000 adults and 400 teens. Offering programs in Somali, Spanish, and Hmong, library story times incorporate all four indicators of progress: listening, speaking, emergent reading, and emergent writing.
Summer Reading Program. Libraries have a long tradition of providing opportunities for informal learning grounded in literacy. While they have historically focused on encouraging children to read during the summer, the ability to articulate and solve problems, to generate original ideas, and to work collaboratively is of growing importance. The Hennepin County Library offers hundreds of activities and youth clubs to engage thousands of kids over the summer focusing on literature, technology, arts, science and exploration.
Homework Help. The Homework Help program offers one-on-one and small group tutoring for kindergarten through grade 12 students, as well as innovative out-of-school programs. Each year tutors at 13 libraries provide an estimated 14,000 individualized tutorials for 2,800 students. The program primarily serves new immigrants; 69 percent of participating students come from households where English is not the first language.
Teens @ HCL: Learning, Literacy and Leadership. Hennepin County Library has created a series of programs that have transformed libraries into positive spaces for youth development where, no matter their background, youth are supported in developing learning skills and participating in meaningful leadership opportunities. These programs, such as the Teen Tech Squad, Guys Read Book Clubs, Game On!, Hennepin Teens Read, History Day Hullabaloo, and much more, are open to all youth and serve over 10,000 teens annually.
Share Books, Share Love. Visiting Nurses Project. This early literacy project addresses the needs of the low-income teen mothers in Hennepin County through a partnership with the Minnesota Visiting Nurses Association. Teen mothers receive regular pre- and post-natal visits (98% of which are low income), this project aims to deliver literacy training to families. Participating families receive instruction of the six essential pre-literacy skills in regular home visits. Families receive specially developed early literacy kits, including information about libraries, tokens for transportation to attend story hours, books, literacy toys, and music that introduce/reinforce reading skills. The program empowers parents to be the child’s first teacher and reinforces the importance of reading to children as an indicator of future success in school. This project is being piloted in 2011-12 with the support of Friends of HCL.