Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Literacy Beliefs of Child Care Professionals: Prerequisite Knowledge for Teacher Librarian Literacy Leaders

Academic journal article School Libraries Worldwide

The Literacy Beliefs of Child Care Professionals: Prerequisite Knowledge for Teacher Librarian Literacy Leaders

Article excerpt

Teacher librarians can offer professional development, services, and programming to instructional leaders and care providers of young children; however, to optimize instruction, they should understand the general knowledge base of early care professionals. This study examined the literacy beliefs of the instructional leaders of child care facilities. Instructional leaders self-reported their beliefs through response to a survey that contained the Teacher Beliefs Questionnaire (Seefeldt, 2004). Results suggest that instructional leaders' beliefs are most consistent with research-based best literacy practice in the areas of book reading and writing and most contradictory in decoding knowledge. Additionally, care providers appear not to have a full understanding of the relationship between early vocabulary development and later reading ability. These findings point to areas which teacher librarians should target in offering professional development. Specifically, in read-aloud sessions librarians should model repeated readings, the use of expository text, facilitation of children's vocabulary development and incorporation of developmentally appropriate code-focused instruction into fun-filled, child-friendly activities and conversations. In co-planning and delivery of professional development, librarians can underscore the importance of vocabulary-building experiences and interactions and promote the reciprocal benefits of reading and writing development.


Though literacy has always been of great importance to teacher librarians, they have recently taken a collective interest in defining themselves as the literacy 'go-to' group. The American Association of Teacher librarians (AASL) (2009a), in addition to emphasizing the librarian's literacy contributions through the teaching and instructional partnership roles, has called on librarians to take a proactive leadership role in literacy support and instruction. To further emphasize this role, AASL (2009b) issued a position statement supporting the full realization of teacher librarians' contributions to students' reading development. Numerous school library professionals have also issued their own calls to teacher librarians in the field to fulfill the literacy leadership role through a variety of means (Achertman, 2010; Asselin, 2003; Branch & Oberg, 2001; Braxton, 2008; Loertscher, 2006, 2010; Moreillon, 2009, 2011; Rosenfeld, 2007).

The AASL School Library Media Specialist (SLMS) Role in Reading Task Force posits that teacher librarians should partner with "classroom teachers at all grade levels and in every subject area" (2009c, slide 4). One way that teacher librarians can fulfill this call is by reaching beyond school boundaries to serve as literacy leaders to early childhood professionals. Through such activity, teacher librarians not only support their own schools' outcomes through instructional collaboration with caregivers at the preschool level, they also bolster their positions as literacy leaders (Arnold & Colburn, 2007, 2009; Braxton, 2004; Cahill, 2004).

Teacher librarians throughout the world recognize the importance of serving young children. Filipenko (2004) in Canada and MacDonnell (2006) in the U. S. suggest that teacher librarians research and integrate developmentally appropriate information literacy standards for young children. In Australia, Braxton (2004) stresses the importance of proactively encouraging library use for preschool populations and their caregivers. And in Finland, schools support literacy for all through invitations to family-focused literacy events (Halinen, Sinko, & Laukkanen, 2005).

A resounding call has also been issued in the United States for librarians to serve early childhood populations. Arnold and Colburn (2007) have advocated working closely with Head Start professionals; Cahill (2004) and Dengel (1994) support outreach to local child care providers; Keller (2005) proposes collaborative partnerships between school and public librarians, early childhood agencies, and early childhood care providers; Neuman, Celano, Greco, and Shue (2001) suggest offering book selection guidelines to early care providers; and Schwindt and Tegeler (2010) issue invitations to engage preschoolers through active storytimes in the school library. …

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