The Secret to Your Child’s Reading Success is the Library

The Secret to Your Child’s Reading Success is the Library

Public Libraries Lift Elementary Literacy Skills

Homeschoolers, distance learners, and traditional elementary school students can access incredible reading resources and expert aid at the local library. I’m a former elementary school teacher as well as a librarian. Over the years, I’ve learned from personal experience, as well as educational research, that many students need extra support in terms of meeting reading goals.

If your young reader is struggling, she is not alone.
Data from 2019 indicates that only 35% of 4th grade students performed at or above NAEP proficient reading levels. (Source:

Public libraries offer supplemental reading programs, literacy tutoring, student book clubs, and online tools which can each make reading success fun and attainable. Visit your public library (or the library website) today and learn more about programming and resources for your elementary school child.

Libraries provide much-needed guidance and literacy materials that promote student reading success.
The states which lead the nation in reading scores also report circulating more children’s materials at public libraries. (Source:

Check out the example resources below, many of which may be offered by your local public library.

Send your representatives an email to let them know that you support libraries and the freedom to access books at your local library

  • Booklists tailored to your child’s ability level and interests. Libraries can also provide parents and guardians with custom book lists to help their elementary students read and succeed.
    Try it: Provide your local librarian with your child’s reading level and list some of her interests and ask for a list of available books (or ebooks) that match your needs. Readers tend to perform better and are more engaged when they are interested in materials!
  • Brainfuse HelpNow
    This site provides a range of learning tools, live help, and access to online study rooms.
    Try it: Your child can meet with friends online to practice literacy skills with friends, take turns reading with a peer, or to practice using vocabulary words correctly and in context.
  • KidLit TV
    Spark your child’s interest in reading with interviews with favorite authors as well as book trailers for elementary-appropriate books geared towards students in grades 3 and below.
    Try it: Visit Crafts and Activities with your child and select an interesting literary themed project. Call your library (or visit the library’s site) and check out the correlated book. If you call ahead of your visit, your librarian may also be able to prepare the necessary materials to complete the craft.

If your local public library does not offer one of the listed resources, remember that you can call to request programs and services, as well as inquire about additional options to support your elementary-age reader! Keep in mind that your library probably provides many excellent opportunities and resources.

School Libraries Provide Super Support for Student Readers

Your child’s elementary school librarian is a literacy expert! He or she will work with you and provide a wealth of resources and insight about your child’s reading level and how to boost his or her reading skills.

I advise calling in advance to book a one-on-one appointment for custom support. This will allow your librarian to prepare for your visit and give you (and your child) the attention and understanding you need to succeed. If your child is a distance learner, or if you have health concerns about meeting in person, schedule a phone call or video conference with your librarian instead. (Note that you can also meet with your local public librarian this way as well!)

Before your meeting, write down any specific concerns you have, reading challenges your child faces, and general comments about how he or she learns best. For example, the knowledge that your child has been diagnosed with ADHD can allow your librarian to provide insight about how to keep her on-task.

If you are unsure of your child’s reading level, ask your school librarian to find the information for you. Knowing how your student is performing will allow you to help your child stay on track with appropriate books and supplemental resources. Sharing your elementary student’s reading level with your public librarian allows her to become part of your child’s literacy support team as well.

Many schools and public libraries across the US use either the Lexile or AR system to measure reading levels. You can view a handy conversion chart here.

Ways to use your school library helps your elementary schooler read at grade level:

  • Visit the school book fair with your child online or in person. Parental involvement encourages your child to read and most school book fairs directly benefit students via arrangements which allow a portion of proceeds to be used towards library resources.
  • Inquire about after-school tutoring. Both school and public libraries offer grade-level appropriate tutoring sessions, often at no cost. Find out about tutoring options available for your child.
  • Sign your child up for a book club. Reading to (or alongside) peers can help your child to stay focused on materials and to use literacy skills such as correct pronunciation. As a bonus, book clubs also provide great opportunities for students to interact with peers, improve social skills, and consider other interpretations of the events within a text.
  • Ask for recommended reading lists and access to literacy-tracking tools, such as reading test scores and tips. You can also visit your school’s web site to check for book recommendations by grade level.

As your child gains more experience selecting and reading texts, both independently and with peers or adults, her literacy skills will improve. Set reading goals with your child and encourage your struggling reader with rewards as she meets challenges which you have set together. Note any challenges and successes along the way and communicate with your librarian for expert help and tailored suggestions for more literacy tools!