could be better than a friendly environment where young children
can socialize with others, develop a love for learning, and gain
valuable tools that will help them prepare for academic success?
How about all that in a warm and inviting mobile classroom that
comes right to their front door and is designed to help ensure
that all children are ready for school by age 5?
Literacy, and Book Services (LLABS) is a new program developed
by the California State Library
in partnership with the California
Children and Families Commission. LLABS vehicles deliver literacy
and other services to "hard to reach" and other underserved families
in many parts of the state. (Click on LLABS Libraries at the bottom
of this page to find one near you.)
The Stockton LLABS vehicle
the size of a school bus, the 32-foot vehicles offer extensive
programming similar to the literacy programs found in the public
libraries. "There are story times, language development activities
such as puppet shows, and books for circulating and giving away,"
says Carole Talan, Adult and Family Literacy Specialist for the
California State Library. The programming models these behaviors
for parents, so children can continue the learning at home.
LLABS vehicles visit low-income housing developments, migrant
camps, local day care centers, HeadStart programs, recreation
centers, family resource centers and community health clinics
to reach their target audience of families with children ages
vehicles were made possible initially by a $2.1 million grant
from the California Children and Families Commission, now known
as First 5 California. You may know this program better as Proposition
10 -- the $ .50 per pack of cigarettes initiative approved by
California voters in 1998. The monies collected are to be used
to fund education, health and child care programs that promote
early childhood development, from prenatal to age 5. The initiative
now raises about $700 million per year statewide Eighty
percent of the revenues go to local county Commissions, for local
distribution based on a locally developed strategic plan. All
these county commissions and their strategic plans can be found
at www.ccfc.ca.gov) Twenty
percent is used by the State Commission for statewide education
grant was for the years 2000 - 2002. Now, all 11 vehicles are
fully operational, and locally funded -- most with a combination
of local library and local Children and Families Commission funds.
Rob Reiner, chair of the California
Children and Families Commission,
reads to children at the LLABS kickoff
Primary Goal is to ensure that all children will be ready for
school by age 5
children 0-5 and their parents/caregivers with a variety of
preschool experiences and activities that support
the successful development of school readiness.
parents/caregivers free and convenient access to the materials
and resources necessary to adequately support the school
readiness of their children.
parents/caregivers with the literacy skills necessary
to adequately develop and support the school readiness of their
parents/caregivers in what, how and why to read aloud to
the children in their lives so that they come to love books
and reading before age 5.
parents/caregivers with information about, and access to,
other services needed by them and their children 0-5.
parents/caregivers with training and information in the
areas of parenting, health, nutrition, safety, smoking, addiction,
and other aspects that impact their children.
the barriers of language, isolation, and lack of transportation
for families and care providers most in need.
parents/caregivers in their efforts to provide a safe, nurturing
and healthy environment for their 0-5 children.
A reading event at
South San Francisco's
key benefit to the vehicle is that it allows young children to
interact in a group setting, helping them to gain social skills
as well as reading readiness skills crucial for thriving once
they enter school. This is especially helpful in rural areas,
where children may stay at home with their mothers and arrive
at kindergarten less socially prepared than their peers. LLABS
will serve children 0-5 and their parents and/or care providers.
a wealth of understanding that both parents and children gain
from group activities," says Talan. "Parents see their child sitting
still and enjoying hearing a story, and they can talk with other
parents and feel comfortable that theyre not the only one
who feels insecure about their abilities."
powered by generators like youd find on an RV, come loaded
with pre-school software such as Blues Clues and Reader
Rabbit. This access enables families without a computer in the
home to become familiar with a mouse and keyboard. On-board staff
encourage families to come to the public library to continue learning
and exploring once they see how much fun it can be.
local LLABS programs each named their
program and designed their own exterior graphics, making each
vehicle unique to the community it serves. At the Woodland Public
Library, programmers held a contest at Sacramento State University
to design the interior of the van as well. The winning entry is
a playful and welcoming design that resembles a child's room
complete with a faux castle thats a seating area and a faux
window-seat where the computers are nestled.
researchers have found that early brain development benefits from
proper nutrition, freedom from infection and lack of exposure
to drugs and toxins, many programs are partnering with other community
agencies to promote healthy development on a number of fronts.
One site is bringing a nurse along to provide sound nutrition
information. Another is partnering with a food bank to distribute
have always been about much more than just providing books," Talan
says. "They have always been about providing resources to the
community, regardless of age or income." These programs are a
natural fit, she says, and can have a long-lasting impact on the
life of a child. "The kids who love books and cant wait
to learn to read," she says, "are the kids who have been read
to, who have had book in their homes. That sets the foundation
for all later literacy and learning." These LLABS will help ensure
that children in California have the opportunity to receive books
and have a positive experience with them prior to entering school.
Service Statistics A glimpse of program demonstrates the incredible
service potential of these amazing vehicles. From January through
June, 2002, the 11 original communities served:
children ages 0 5
parents of children ages 0 5
caregivers of children ages 0 5
16,054 quality childrens books were distributed to assist
in building home libraries for these families
Partnerships Expand and Enhance Services
developed by local libraries have allowed them to offer access
to a variety of important services such as bi-lingual parenting
workshops; nutrition, dental and vaccination information; and
low-income health insurance programs, in addition to providing
services to address emergent literacy needs of children ages 0-
5. Storytimes, music, craft and reading activities for parents
and children, as well as teaching parents the importance of reading
to their young children, and age-appropriate strategies for helping
young children meet kindergarten readiness standards are among
the services offered. Families are also given free books to keep
in order to help with building home libraries, and can also borrow
additional books, games and parent education materials.
local LLABS coalition developed their vehicle's interior and
exterior design to meet local program specifications, and worked
as a group to select appropriate "bus stops," and create visitation
schedules which address identified community needs.
tremendous advantage of these mobile units to all the partnering
organizations is that they allow comprehensive service delivery
in locations that were previously not served because of lack
of facilities and/or geographic isolation.
highly successful strategy in the program is the practice of
encouraging families to participate regularly by providing free
quality childrens books to build a home library and engender
a love of reading.
LLABS utilize library literacy staff and materials, as well as
a wealth of in-kind staff support and materials from the partner
organizations and others in the community wishing to reach these
populations. The "One-Stop-Shop" mentality pervades the service
delivery plans in each community. Information and education about
a variety of child development, parenting and health issues is
provided on board these vehicles, in addition to the early literacy
More LLABS Programs Underway -- They're Home Grown! Another
very exciting success of this two-year pilot project has been
the development of several "home-grown" LLABS projects in additional
locations across California. Libraries in Tuolumne County, Butte
County, San Mateo County and Monrovia have received local Children
and Families Commission grants to help them get started, and are
each working on creative local fundraising to achieve full funding
for their vehicle and program needs.
Activities -- The State Library developed Pre-/Post-Surveys
in both English and Spanish -- one for parents, and another for
caregivers (day care providers) who participate in the program.
The surveys are designed to measure program outcomes in the following
and caregiver involvement in promoting reading with children.
to parent education information on nutrition, child development,
smoking, and children's health.
child development skills in areas of cognitive, physical, speech,
hand/eye and sensory development of preschool children.
readiness skills of 4 year olds listed as benchmarks with the
California Department of Education's Pre-Kindergarten Grade-Level
Expectations and as preliminary Head Start Child Outcomes and
Indicators for children's emergent literacy skills.
of the public library as a resource for lifelong learning.
addition to measuring results of program activities on children
who participate, we can also measure changed behaviors of parents
and caregivers which will positively affect the children in their
care. An added benefit is education and heightened awareness by
day care providers and other caregivers of activities they can
use to assist all the children in their care with emergent literacy
programs began utilizing the survey about mid-way through Year
2 of the project. While currently the reported data represents
a very small sample, we have found some very satisfying preliminary
66% increase in the number of parents/caregivers who increased
the number of days they read to their child(ren).
72% increase in the number who report taking their child(ren)
to the library to borrow books.
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