Children motivated to read, ready for school after participating in Ontario Public Library preschool literacy program, OISE research shows.

“Early literacy library programs have had a noticeable impact on children’s literacy behaviour and on parent/caregiver-child interactions in their homes”, according to Drs. Shelley Stagg Peterson and Eunice Jang, Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

Commissioned by the Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (Federation), Peterson and Jang led OISE’s research to provide empirical evidence of the ways in which preschool literacy programs in Ontario public libraries (1) facilitate participating children’s early literacy development and school readiness, and (2) influence family interactions supporting children’s literacy learning. Multiple data sources were used to enhance the reliability of the results, including surveys of parents/caregivers, observations of children during program sessions, and interviews with library staff across 10 public library systems.

Highlights of the evidence gathered are:
• Participating children demonstrated many early literacy behaviours and understandings
considered by leading early researchers and experts to be foundational to later literacy
• Early literacy library programs were particularly strong in meeting parents’/caregivers’
goals of fostering children’s school readiness and their motivation to read.
• Library staff served as excellent literacy models for parents/caregivers, enabling them to
make reading with their children more engaging and more productive.

“Perhaps now, the Ontario Ministries of Education and Children & Youth Services will consult more extensively with the public library sector when developing provincial literacy strategies such as Best Start Child & Family Centres. To date we’ve been pretty much overlooked,” said Jim Bennett, Board Chair of the Federation. “This OISE study provides concrete evidence that Ontario public libraries are key players in emergent literacy programming and therefore should be eligible to receive provincial literacy funding.”

OISE’s report has been peer-reviewed and will be published later this year in Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Literary and Information Practice and Research. The full report is available at the following link:

Final Report PDF: Preschool Early Literacy Programs in Ontario Public Libraries

Final Report PDF French: Preschool Early Literacy Programs in Ontario Public Libraries

The support of the Government of Ontario, through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, is acknowledged.