Thursday, July 14, 2016

Children’s books ‘hard to come by’ in high-poverty areas

Children's books arranged on library shelves and counter-top displays

An examination of access to children's books in six urban neighborhoods has determined, in the words of Susan B. Neuman, that “Children’s books are hard to come by in high-poverty neighborhoods.”

Neuman served as lead author of the study, led by New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.

As detailed in an article posted at, researchers focused on three U.S. cities representing the Northeast, Midwest and West. They analyzed access to children’s books in a high-poverty area (40 percent or higher) and a “borderline” community with a poverty rate of 18 to 40 percent.

The study identified “stark disparities in access to children’s books for families living in high-poverty areas.”

While acknowledged the importance of libraries in providing access to books, “research has shown that the presence of books in the home is related to children’s reading achievement.”

This research makes me all the more grateful for programs and partnerships in communities where I’ve lived that connect children with books.

I’m thinking with gratitude of programs like “Ashland Reads,” benefiting first-grade students in Ashland, Oregon, and “Imagination Library” for new babies and their families in Lake County, Calif.

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