Promoting early literacy through “Literacy Corners” & community engagement

Rockford Public Library (RPL) has long been committed to fostering a culture of literacy and learning within our community. With the support of United Way and United for Literacy funding, RPL has embarked on a remarkable journey to expand its reach and impact. The library’s innovative initiatives, including “Literacy Corners” and literacy training programs, are making a significant difference in

promoting early literacy skills among children and empowering the community to become active partners in this endeavor.

Laundromat Corners: A Unique Approach to Reading

RPL’s Literacy Corners are a testament to the library’s dedication to increasing access to books and promoting early literacy skills in unconventional yet highly effective ways. These libraries, strategically placed in local laundromats and eventually other locations, serve as educational hubs for families who frequent these facilities. They offer a diverse selection of books tailored to various age groups, ensuring that children of all ages can find engaging and age-appropriate reading materials. One of the distinctive features of RPL’s Literacy Corners is their commitment to engaging with parents and caregivers. Recognizing adults’ crucial role in a child’s literacy development, each Literacy Corners features a display rack filled with valuable information for parents and caregivers. This information includes tips on how to support early literacy at home and provides details about community resources that can further enrich a child’s educational journey. Scheduled activities at RPL’s Literacy Corners, such as storytelling sessions, arts and crafts, and interactive games, make learning fun and create opportunities for social interaction and community building. These libraries serve as spaces where families come together, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging a love for learning.

Empowering the Community: Literacy Training Programs

In addition to their work at Literacy Corners, RPL is dedicated to empowering the community at large. They recognize that literacy is a collective effort, and for this reason, the library provides ‘Every Child Ready to Read’ early literacy training to individuals, schools, churches, and other community organizations. Every Child Ready to Read is a project of the Association for Library Service to Children and the Public Library Association, divisions of the American Library Association.

Through these training programs, RPL equips volunteers with the tools and knowledge they need to support early literacy efforts in our community. Volunteers become literacy champions, helping to create a network of individuals committed to improving children’s reading skills in Winnebago County. This approach benefits children and strengthens the fabric of the community, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.

Rockford Public Library’s work through United for Literacy funding showcases the power of innovation, community engagement, and collaboration in promoting early literacy. By establishing Literacy Corners and empowering volunteers with literacy training, RPL is increasing access to books and building a strong foundation for lifelong learning among the children of Winnebago County. These initiatives exemplify the library’s commitment to nurturing a more literate and connected community, one book at a time.

Our United for Literacy collaborators and funded partners not only share our vision of breaking the cycle of generational poverty beginning with early literacy support but also generously support the work through their investments of time, counsel, and support.

Their support will enable our success. Working collectively and collaboratively with the school systems, education-based organizations, children’s services, and non-profit agencies, we utilize our combined strengths and resources to support children in school, out of school, and through their caregivers. This strategy creates community-wide alignment, so all the participating agencies align their strategies to achieve our goal of increasing the child literacy rate in Winnebago County to 75% by 2034.