Blog Archives

National Head Start Association Conference

nhsaI am very pleased to announce that Karen Nemeth and I will be presenting Links with Libraries: The Surprisingly Diverse Ways Libraries are Supporting School Readiness at the National Head Start Association Conference in Long Beach, CA, on April 30th. Here are the details:

Links with Libraries: The Surprisingly Diverse Ways Libraries are Supporting School Readiness

Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Session Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Learning Block: Classroom Management & Teaching Strategies

Details: Public libraries are doing amazing things for early learning and school readiness. Partnering with them can really help Head Start programs make a difference. Ideas for collaborating with libraries should be part of every Head Start teachers plan for supporting young DLLs (Dual Language Learners). This session will present exciting examples of library initiatives that meet diverse language needs, offer access to technology, and build family literacy.

Learning Outcome #1: Participants will learn an overview of ways that early childhood programs and libraries can work together,

Learning Outcome #2: Participants will learn about specific library initiatives, resources and funding options,

Learning Outcome #3: Participants will list the library resources and needs in their communities and how they can be used to leverage existing Head Start programs and services to better serve children/families.

Karen Nemeth, Ed.M.

Karen Nemeth, Ed.M Nemeth, Ed.M. has been working with young children and their teachers for … a long time. From her graduate work in language acquisition through her years as a teacher, college professor, and professional development provider for child care resource and referral agencies and the New Jersey Department of Education, she has continued to study the research and the work of tireless practitioners in supporting first and second language development. Now she is an author and speaker on early childhood education and language development. She has worked with diverse early childhood programs across the country to improve services for DLLs and school readiness Karen has written several books on young dual language learners, several articles for NAEYC and other periodicals, and maintains a resource sharing website at

Cen Campbell

Cen is the founder of and the librarian at She has driven a bookmobile, managed branch libraries, developed innovative programs for babies, young children and teens, and now helps other libraries incorporate digital media into their early literacy programming. She is currently a consultant for the California State Library’s Early Learning with Families 2.0 Initiative and serves on the American Library Association’s Children & Technology committee.

Resources to Support Including Dual Language Learners in Storytime by Karen Nemeth

Children who come from home languages other than English are the fastest growing portion of our population. These days, it seems that many librarians have questions about how to serve the diverse members of their community.  Here is my advice:  do NOT do these things if you want to offer successful library programs for children who speak languages other than English!

1. Do NOT feel intimidated. All young children love stories. The props, digital images and sounds you use to bring those stories to life will engage children even when they don’t yet understand all the words. Just make an extra effort to repeat, to speak slowly, and to clearly indicate the connections between visuals and the words used in the story.

2. Do NOT miss the chance to invite families who speak different languages to your storytime programs. Print, post and extend simple invitations in as many languages as possible. Welcoming new families may be as simple as making your advertisements easier to read.

3. Do NOT stick with monolingual story apps. Bilingual story apps not only give you stories in two languages, but they allow you and the children to hear how to pronounce the words. Try bilingual story apps by , the Sarah and Granny app from Sanoen, or the Pocoyo bilingual story apps. Many free literacy resources are available online in many languages at and

4. Do NOT be afraid of losing the interest of English speaking children when you are telling a story in another language. All your fancy storytime skills along with the help of your digital media will help you make any story interesting to all of the children. Reinforce the new words in the story by introducing songs with the same new words in English and the other language. Keep in mind that learning a second language actually helps build the first language while it also builds important learning skills as described in this article from the New York Times: Why Bilinguals are Smarter.

5. Do NOT accept low quality stories and apps for children who are dual language learners. This rubric will help you choose apps and stories that offer good quality literacy experiences in different languages.

6. Do NOT worry! Getting to know the diverse children in your community and helping them to get to know each other is a wonderful way to expand and enhance your storytime.

Karen Nemeth holds a BA in Psychology and an EdM in Learning, Cognition and Development (research on language acquisition). She is an author, consultant and presenter focusing on effective early education for dual language learners. She is a consulting editor and author for NAEYC, the co-chair of the early childhood SIG of NABE, and she is on the board of NJTESOL/NJBE. Karen wrote Many Languages, One Classroom, Many Languages, Building Connections, and Basics of Supporting Dual Language Learners. She co-authored Digital Decisions and Mi Habitación/My Room. She was an Education Program Development Specialist in the Office of Preschool Education at NJ Department of Education. Her prior experience includes work in public school, private school, child care resource and referral/professional development organizations, college teaching and grant writing. She offers a wealth of resources on her website at

Big Ways Libraries Can Fill Sequestration Gaps in Early Education

This post is a collaborative work between Cen Campbell and Karen Nemeth at Language Castle.

Times are tough for preschools and home visiting programs right now. This article in the Arkansas Times tells the real story about the devastating effects of sequestration budget cuts on early childhood education programs across the country.  As we read about the millions of dollars, we were really moved by the story of one little girl, Aaliyah. She just couldn’t understand why her home visitor wouldn’t be coming any more and her mom was worried about Aaliyah losing ground after learning so much in her early years.  We know Aaliyah is growing and learning fast.  She doesn’t have time to wait for the government to fix the budget.   How can we help her and the thousands of children in danger of being left behind?

Get those children to the library!

Here are a few big ways that libraries can fill the early learning gap left by slashed budgets.

  1. Not only do the libraries have books – they have people who know how to use them! Children’s librarians have training and experience in supporting early literacy development.  Free story hours and other literacy activities are a must for young children who can’t get to preschool.

  2. Books for parents as teachers are packed with great activities and learning ideas parents can try at home!  Librarians can show parents some books with art ideas or cooking projects or learning activities that can be enjoyed at home to keep the learning going.

  3. Even in tough times, there are computers and learning games at the public library.  Check for a subscription to the Tumblebooks learning and literacy activities available in several languages on many library websites.

  4. Learning materials and toys may also be available.  Families can find puppets, puzzles, and other toys that go with great children’s books to expand the learning experience.

  5. Technology is a growing component of many library offerings.  Did you know you can check out videos or DVDs of educational programs? Or CDs with songs to help your child learn letters or concepts or new languages? Some libraries are even lending tablet devices loaded with story ebooks and other high quality literacy apps.

  6. And…. If preschool programs are experiencing cuts, a partnership with their local library may save them enough money to keep a few more slots open for children who need them the most.

Public libraries exist to serve the needs of their communities; if there are services or resources that you need, approach your local library and tell them what would help you! Whether you are a parent, an educator, or you work with any other capacity with families and their children, your local children’s librarian will either have resources to help you, or they will find out where else in the community those resources are available. Attend already existing programs (like storytimes, book clubs or craft programs) but also call, check out the website, or visit the library to find out about other programs, services or partnerships that you might NOT expect!

Here are just a few examples of innovative programs happening at some local public libraries:

Darien Library Early Literacy

The Darien Library has been a leader in the area of new literacies through the development of their circulating Early Literacy iPad Kits, but they also have a wide variety of early literacy programs and resources and current and relevant information for parents.

Multnomah County Library System

The Multnomah County Library System has comprehensive online and in-house resources for early literacy development, including information on literacy development for children age 0-6 (many librarians often refer to these resources because they’re so good!), parent programs, reading lists and ongoing programming.

Pierce County Library

The Pierce County Library System is a 2013 IMLS National Award Winner that offers comprehensive services to families and childcare providers. Not only do they provide access to traditional literacy tools, services and programs, they also offer book club kits, training for early childhood educators, museum passes, oral health resources, newsletters and community-building programming.

San Francisco Public Library

The San Francisco Public Library not only offers the traditional library services you’d expect from a large metropolitan library system, but they also have programs like the free summer lunch program, resources for free family events, free passes to local educational spaces and a host of other collaborative projects and early literacy resources.

Skokie Public Library

The Skokie Public Library offers a wide variety of family programs and services including movie nights, game and craft programs, reading programs at various times of the year, and they have some really creative librarians who incorporate mobile media and maker movement into their library offerings.

For more information on this topic, see this recent report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services on How Museums and Libraries Create Lifelong Learners.  Lisa Guernsey has also written about the changing role of libraries in challenging times at her website and on blogs.

Cen, the children’s librarian and Karen, the early childhood education expert, are joining forces here to unleash the power of libraries everywhere!

Librarians: Activate your outreach powers and find out where sequestration is hurting your community.   When you find the gaps, we just know you’ll think of ways to fill them!

Early childhood programs: Activate your social powers and make friends with your local librarians.  If you have to turn families away – don’t let them leave your building or your website without a clear recommendation that they need to check out the library.

But hurry!  Those children can’t wait!


NAEYC PDI proposal accepted:Links with Libraries: The Surprisingly Diverse Ways Libraries are Supporting Developmentally Appropriate Early Learning in Partnerships with Schools and Programs

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I just received confirmation that the proposal Lisa GuernseyKaren Nemeth and I submitted to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Professional Development Institute  (San Francisco, June 9-12 2013) has been accepted. There’s no link up yet, and the details may be different in the official program, but below is the description we submitted. This program is part of my personal/professional campaign to break out of the library echochamber and collaborate creatively with other professions who work with the same demographics that we do.

Links with Libraries: The Surprisingly Diverse Ways Libraries are Supporting Developmentally Appropriate Early Learning in Partnerships with Schools and Programs

Public libraries are doing amazing things for early learning and developmentally appropriate practice. Ideas for collaborating with libraries should be part of early childhood teacher preparation and training. This session will present exciting examples of library initiatives that meet diverse language needs, offer access to technology, and build family literacy.

See my other upcoming speaking engagements.