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Ensuring Early Literacy Opportunities in the Community

Young children develop early literacy skills in multiple contexts and activities, including formal learning contexts and in-school literacy instruction as well as informal learning contexts and out-of-school literacy activities. Informal contexts, such as home, community, library, and museum, encourage children’s literacy exploration and support their reading- and writing-learning and development.

The EARLY Lab (Early Acceleration of Reading and Literacy in Youngsters Lab), directed by Dr. Seung-Hee Claire Son in the Department of Educational Psychology, has conducted Ensuring Early Literacy Opportunities projects to examine the role of community spaces and community programs on early childhood literacy. Specifically, the EARLY Lab has collaborated with community organizations, including Salt Lake City Public library and the County Library, to develop and evaluate community literacy programs of storytime and outreach literacy activities. In addition, a natural experiment was conducted to evaluate the impact of opening a new neighborhood library on children’s reading and literacy outcomes.

The EARLY Lab also developed a tool to observe and assess children’s reading engagement and interest in storytime, the Shared Reading Engagement Rating Scale. The Shared Reading Engagement Rating Scale is used in various environments from libraries, preschools, and homes to evaluate children's experiences of storytime to improve the quality of shared reading. Son and her team will further examine the use of multimedia and ebooks in museums and schools to improve literacy experiences and reading and language outcomes of children.

Dr. Son is confident that actively developing and utilizing community environments and resources will be beneficial for children, especially at-risk children with disadvantaged backgrounds. She is excited about the potential of combining community and school resources to provide more opportunities to improve school readiness and literacy outcome of young children.

*The Ensuring Early Literacy Opportunities project is supported by the Larry H. & Gail Miller Foundation, the American Educational Research Association’s Education Research Service Project, and the University of Utah's Community-Based Research grant and LEARNT Award. 

Check out our early literacy partner, the Salt Lake City Public Library

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Last Updated: 12/12/23