Building Collaborative Momentum in Early Learning

Liz Morris /
Image courtesy Fairfax Library Foundation
on Flickr | cc by-nc-nd 2.0

Note: WebJunction is updating and expanding its successful Supercharged Storytimes pilot project. Learn about the new project, Supercharged Storytimes for All.

November 2015 saw two big milestones for our Supercharged Storytimes project, including participation in the annual conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and conclusion of our early-literacy focused online orientation series for over 450 Supercharged Storytimes participants in five states. Both of these experiences have reinforced the necessity of equity and intentionality in community services to children and families, and the valuable contributions public library staff make to early childhood development every day.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is, "…a professional membership organization that works to promote high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research." Their Annual Conference & Expo is a large and influential national gathering of early childhood educators and advocates. We were thrilled to be invited to present to this community about Supercharged Storytimes, and share a broader narrative about the impact of partnerships between state and public libraries and early learning organizations. It was a privilege to co-present with our project partners at Thrive Washington. Their deep expertise in equitable early learning systems-building added to the strong voice given to social justice for all families and communities throughout the conference.

The Supercharged Storytimes community of practice is a strong network of early literacy empowered storytime providers that continues to learn and grow. On November 30, 2015, we completed our fifth and final live online orientation session for library participants in our expanded pilot states. We talked about sustaining early literacy influence through library mentorships and community partnerships. We asked library staff to share back what one word best describes the learning they are taking away from their Supercharged participation. Their amazing feedback included powerful reflections such as intentionality, validation, community and confidence.

As we move into the next phase of this work, we will evaluate the experiences of all project participants, and develop recommendations for bringing the Supercharged Storytimes resources and learning opportunities to more library staff across the country. In the meantime, if you’re not yet familiar with the library storytime and other programming resources available from the Association for Library Service to Children, check them out! Some of our favorites from them include the Babies Need Words Every Day initiative resources, which include downloadable posters, book lists and a media kit to promote early literacy at your library and with community partners, parents, and caregivers. Another is the Building STEAM with Día Toolkit, which addresses inclusive and intentional planning of diverse content and community partners in STEAM programming.

A personal highlight for me at the NAEYC conference was when, while attending a very crowded session on early literacy, somebody got up and said, “The public library is the best field trip you could possibly take your kids on!” There was very evident agreement in the room and much nodding-of-heads! Providers in early childhood education, like us in libraries, are committed to inclusion and collaboration. Let’s keep building our local relationships and networks of support to advance early learning for all children in our communities!

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