21st Century Skills:
The "Raising Readers through Programs and Outreach" initiative illustrates the Pueblo of Pojoaque Public Library’s commitment to a critical community need: basic literacy.
The program came about as a result of the library’s facilitation of meetings, surveys, and interviews, all of which pointed to the need for pre-literacy and reading incentive programs that involve parents and caregivers in the early childhood learning process. The project develops and presents library and outreach programs emphasizing pre-literacy for pre-school children and their families, develops and implements reading incentive programs for school age children, and expands the library collection with materials that address pre-reading skills and promote pre-literacy.
Through this program, the Pueblo of Pojoaque Public Library has established itself as a leader in strengthening relationships within the native cultural community by bringing entire families—children, parents, and caregivers—together for storytelling and reading activities with staff. Although initial attendance was quite low, the addition of a Youth Services Librarian (made possible by a grant from IMLS) has dramatically increased attendance and interest in reading and storytelling workshops. In just seven months, the Youth Services Librarian conducted 103 storytelling sessions with 1,132 attendees. The librarian expanded the storytelling activities beyond the library through visits to schools and early childhood centers. Now, when he arrives at a preschool, the children enthusiastically declare "The LIBRARY is here!" and quickly take their places on the reading rug.
At each session, the librarian provides a list of recommended titles for parents to read outside of the library with their families, along with take-home handouts that emphasize the pre-reading skills covered by that day’s session. The books, songs and activities in the program are all based on recommended titles from the "Every Child Ready to Read" (ECRR) program, which also integrates participant evaluations, the results of which help staff measure the impact of the lessons and provide recommendations for future workshops.
The impact of the program on the local community has been dramatic, as circulation rates of the library’s books, particularly children’s books, have increased significantly. Such evidence that Pueblos are reading more books outside of the library is particularly energizing to library staff and the overall community as well.