When it comes to early childcare and education, there are a large variety of the items and methods of care and teaching you’ll find in daycares and preschools, which can, in turn, often become interchangeable terms. In general, these programs serve as the springboard for the learning that will be administered in early education. Still, most programs are heaped with a healthy dose of playtime that can sometimes overshadow educational elements. The best programs, however, learn to incorporate the two into each other, and that’s exactly what the non-profit Books for Kids is hoping to do in New York.
Citing studies that have shown that those from low-income families have less book exposure/reading time, and as such are usually a year or more behind in their reading skills than their middle or upper-class counterparts by the time they hit grade school, the organization aims to transform unused spaces in daycares and preschools into vibrant and inviting reading rooms.
Books for Kids was founded in 1986, so they’re not new to their mission and have been carrying it out effectively for many years now. From the beginning, the organization has taken up its cause of literacy specifically in preschools for low-income and at-risk children. Though they’ve been at it a while, there are new and unique challenges to the reading landscape today, according to both program organizers and teachers at participating preschools and daycares.
For one, according to Goddard Riverside Daycare Center teacher Christine Chiarellia, kids these days have more and more technological temptations vying for their attention. iPads and iPhones, whether their own or their parents, join television and other media as flashy, interesting, platforms for children to spend their time on. Despite this, Books for Kids retains that focusing on traditional book reading and literacy learning is still vitally important for young, developing minds.
Indeed, scientists have seen changes in how the brains of youths, teens, and even young adults now have changed since instant gratification and connectivity has become the norm. Students even report a lower attention span and ability to focus on one task for an extended period of time relative to a couple of decades ago. If these revelations are to be viewed as problems, then the solution will likely start when people are young and are the most receptive to formative stimuli. These are, of course, secondary to the organization’s primary goal of boosting interest in books and literacy amongst very young readers, as many of the devices didn’t exist when the group was founded.
According to experts, 83 percent of children coming from low-income families read below their current grade level, which can translate to a number of problems for not only the children themselves, but also for the pacing of their teachers and other students. One of the non-profit’s goals is to provide a variety of reading materials in order to adapt to different tastes amongst young people; they figure that variety can help to give books a more multi-faceted appeal. Since its inception, the organization has created over 80 psuedo-libraries for young people.