Since bringing the Imagination Library to Erie County, United Way has called it a transformational early literacy program. For the first time, we have solid local research supporting this statement.
Purpose: To understand the impact of storybook reading on the children and parents receiving Imagination Library books using Clay’s (2013) Concepts about Print and Letter Identification tasks with a parent/caregiver survey about home literacy practices. We reached out to Penn State Behrend’s Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Community Outreach, Research, and Evaluation, or “CORE”, to perform an evaluation of the program. Dr. Chad H. Waldron, Assistant Professor, Language and Literacy Education at Penn State Behrend, was the Project Lead. The study involved the diverse sampling of 394 young children entering kindergarten from 6 different Erie County schools and focused on examining their early literacy skills.
Young children who received the Imagination Library books for 2 years performed significantly better on early literacy tasks than their peers who did not receive the books. They had much stronger beginning reading skills by receiving the books, both indicated by assessments and reported by their parents. We look forward to performing this evaluation again with children who have had the benefit of receiving the books for the full 5 years when the time comes.
A very special thank you to our friends at The Erie Community Foundation for being a funding partner in this project, along with PNC, Country Fair and many other supportive people and organizations.