Babies Can “Read”: Infant/Toddler Literacy Training for Long Beach Public Library

Project Category: Amplifying the Impact of Community Early Care Providers 

Treshawn Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences- Child Development and Family Studies
California State University, Long Beach

Introduction: Librarians within the Long Beach Public Library (LBPL) system conduct numerous story time events with their neighborhood children and families, serving nearly 400 families each week.  Although most librarians conducting story times have experience and education related to literacy and library science, most of them lack training related to child development, developmentally appropriate literacy practices (DALP), and appropriate parent-child interactions.  This lack of training compromises the quality of implementation of a story time curriculum due to having untrained professionals working with our most vulnerable populations1.

The current project was designed to provide training to librarians on basic child development and DALP for infants.  Another goal of this project was to develop an infant story time curriculum for librarians to implement, as a curriculum specifically focused on infants and their caregivers had not yet been developed.  With libraries offering this new infant story time event, we hoped to see increased positive parent-child interactions and promotion of early literacy in the home (not studied in the current project).  The research question that the project set out to answer was: 1) Does the librarian literacy training have any effect on the librarian’s knowledge of child development, DALP, and positive parent-child interactions?

Methods: This current study included all 22 librarian and librarian assistants within the LBPL system.  83% of the librarians held a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science while 17% held a Bachelor’s degree or below in a related field (i.e., English liberal arts, psychology, English literature).  On average, the sample of librarians held 16 years of experience in the library science field and an average of 9 years working in the LBPL system.

Information about the infant story time literacy training was announced as a professional development workshop option for librarians to attend.  The infant story time training was a 2-hour workshop held once a week for 3 weeks.

Week one included the history of early childhood education, prominent theories in child development, and physical/motor development. Week two included social-emotional development and the importance of quality parent-child interactions. Week three included brain, cognitive, and language development.

Pre- and post-training measures evaluating the effectiveness of the literacy training were conducted. Measures consisted of basic demographic, educational information and questions regarding librarians’ confidence in knowledge about DALP with infants.  Additionally, a 6-week infant story time curriculum was developed by students at CSU, Long Beach with the goal of promoting positive parent-child interactions within the literacy context.

Results: Of the 22 librarians who participated in the infant story time literacy training, 18 completed the pre-training assessment and 14 completed the post-training assessment.  Only those who completed both pre- and post-training assessments were included in the analyses.  Results of the study indicated that after completion of the infant story time literacy training, there was significant overall growth in librarians’ confidence in their knowledge about DALP with infants (t=5.02(13), p<.001).  In particular, librarians’ knowledge of DALP with infants made the highest gains ranging from not at all confident (M=1.92 SD=.99) to confident (M=3.42, SD=.76) after participating in the infant story time literacy training.

Discussion: Conducting the infant story time literacy training with librarians in the LBPL system resulted in the overall growth in librarians’ confidence in their knowledge about DALP with infants. Furthermore, since most library story times are geared towards toddlers and preschool-aged children, an introduction of an infant story time curriculum helped to meet the need for a curriculum with the Long Beach population.  On the last week of the training, librarians were introduced to the curriculum and were guided on implementation strategies however, due to timing, Dr. Anderson could not observe the actual implementation efforts of the librarians.  In any intervention implementation, researchers want to observe the fidelity of implementation to ensure the curriculum is being presented to the target population as it is intended2, however the lack of this follow-up procedure presents a limitation to the current study.

The 6-week infant story time curriculum, developed by Dr. Anderson and the FCS students at CSULB, had a purpose to promote positive parent-child interactions within the literacy context.  For future research, it would be interesting to investigate whether there was a change in parents’ interactions with their infants as well as the difference in infants’ exposure to literacy activities in the home, after attending the 6-week infant story time event in the library. 

Treshawn Anderson, Ph.D.
105 Smith Level Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(Formerly, California State University, Long Beach)


1 Burchinal, M. R., Cryer, D., Clifford, R. M., & Howes, C. (2002) Caregiver training and classroom quality in child care centers. Applied Developmental Science, 6, 2-11

2 Justice, L. M., Mashburn, A., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2008). Quality of Language and Literacy Instruction in Preschool Classrooms Serving At-Risk Pupils. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 23(1), 51–68.