Reading Nation Waterfall Year Two: The Role of Libraries in Supporting Early Children’s Literacy in Tribal Communities

Faculty Conference Presentation

Reading Nation Waterfall (RNW) is a three-year, $1.4 million-dollar IMLS implementation grant seeking to identify and remove barriers to literacy resources and libraries for Native American children and families in five tribal communities – the Yurok Tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian, the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe of Montana, and the Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico. Overseen by San Jose State University’s iSchool and founder Dr. Anthony Chow, the project positions libraries as the center of a literacy network composed of three organizations where children are: Head Start (children 3-5 in poverty), tribal/public library, and elementary school library. In partnership with Little Free Library, each tribal community has strategically placed a little free library in front of each of the three locations. In doing so, children and caregivers have a “waterfall” of new and gently used books that are curated by librarians to be culturally relevant and of the highest quality. Preliminary findings suggest that many of the children in our five tribal communities may be growing up in households with very few books and who visit their public library rarely. What would happen if these children had unfettered access to brand-new, high-quality, librarian curated books conveniently and strategically placed where they already are almost every day? That they can also browse, select, and bring home? Our research hypothesis is that if we can systematically infuse enough books into each child and community’s book ecosystem, that incoming kindergarten entrance grade equivalency literacy rates would increase, that fourth grade reading scores would also increase, and, due to an increased number of children who have built a love of reading from 0-10 years old, that library usage and circulation would also increase. Come meet the stars of each of the five participating tribes – the RNW librarians themselves who have worked tirelessly to help make our project a success on behalf of the children they serve. We will also share lessons learned, best practices, and provide resources to support replicating aspects of our project in your local communities.
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Presenters: Anthony Chow, Sophia LaMonica, Lynette Dial, Adrienne
Violett, Adam Lambert, Heather K. Sellers, Kathryn Grogan, Izaskun
Uriz, Tiffiny Remmer, Shana Coriz, Jim McQuillen, Leah Choi, Rosa
Peña, and Soua Kue
Date: Saturday, June 24, 2023
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Central Time)
Location: 2023 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, IL