|Studies indicate that reading to children, even as infants improves their language skills, strengthens their families, and enables them in school to perform better on standardized education tests. Additional findings show that early reading is the key to school success and a precursor to lifelong learning. It is known that the "wiring" of a child's brain begins at birth and that the first three years are critical for future cognitive and emotional development. All children, no matter what socio-economic level or home they come from are at risk for not reading at grade level because of the many and varied visual distractions in their lives. These include, but are not limited to television, video games, videocassettes and the Internet.
The New Hampshire State Library will make emergent literacy a priority throughout the state by helping to raise the status of public libraries and their leading role in literacy. The public library is the center for lifelong learning and new research shows just how early this learning begins. Reading can nurture this development and libraries in New Hampshire have much to offer. This goal reflects a growing trend among educators and librarians that becoming literate begins at birth and continues throughout the years prior to kindergarten. The New Hampshire State Library will strengthen the ability of New Hampshire public libraries to help library users acquire early literacy education in their communities.
While New Hampshire residents may be well educated, the need to educate the population on what is appropriate reading materials for babies and infants remains evident. As Mark Twain said, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." This profound quotation sums up the efforts the State Library plans to undertake in providing reading materials to new parents. Additionally, Thomas Jefferson's words about democracy, "Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe," define New Hampshire's unique form of citizen government.
Objective 1: Develop a program with the assistance of New Hampshire libraries, medical societies and hospitals to make reading to infants and young children a priority for families
1.1 Provide reference service and support to the "Early Learning Lasts a Lifetime" program to ensure all children have the best chance to do well in school
1.2 Provide books and materials to every new parent in New Hampshire through a "Books for Babies" program that has as its goal to help children read on grade level from the beginning of their school careers
Objective 2: Develop a statewide training and promotion program for public libraries to encourage family literacy, which will build on existing programs such as the New Hampshire Summer Reading Program
2.1 Provide financial assistance and consulting support to libraries in the development of summer reading programs and after-school programs directed at reading and lifelong learning
2.2 Establish a State Librarian-sponsored event(s) for family reading programs/promotion
2.3 Establish partnerships with state and local literacy agencies
2.4 Promote early-childhood programs that encourage pre-school learning
Objective 3: Investigate establishing a New Hampshire Center for the Book as an effective vehicle for promoting reading
3.1 Work with the Library of Congress to understand the guidelines and activities involved with an affiliate state Center for the Book
3.2 Utilize a Center for the Book to promote reading throughout New Hampshire