Conference Proceeding: Bringing Research to Life: The Crucial Role of Librarians in Meeting—and Exceeding—the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards in English language arts and literacy present a great challenge for students and teachers. Librarians are crucial allies, uniquely able to take three essential steps. First, they can help disseminate the research on reading comprehension underlying the standards. This body of research, which will be fully explained in the presentation, boils down to this: reading comprehension depends chiefly on prior knowledge. That’s why the ELA standards have such a strong emphasis on informational texts. Second, librarians can assist teachers in finding appropriate fictional and informational texts. Broad literacy depends on broad knowledge, so the K-12 years must be carefully designed to impart as much knowledge as possible. Research shows that the most efficient and effective means is to immerse students, for two to three weeks at a time, in specific topics. Doing so requires a range of introductory to advanced texts on each topic. Librarians can create sets of texts on a great variety of topics, and they can both share their texts sets with teachers and create topic-focused reading areas throughout the youth sections of their libraries. University librarians will see this trend carried through on the college level with much more emphasis on broad reading in specific topics. Third, librarians can directly increase children’s knowledge, and love of books, by frequently reading aloud. Even after children can read—even up to, on average, 13 years old—children’s listening comprehension is greater than their reading comprehension. So, please schedule as many read-alouds as you can—even better, develop a series of read-alouds on a single topic.