Tess Prendergast: Seeking Early Literacy for All


This qualitative study explores children’s librarianship and early literacy in the lives of children with disabilities. Informed by critical disability theory, underpinned by Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological development theory, this project was constructed as an interpretive case study. Eleven children’s librarians working in western Canada were asked about providing early literacy resources for children with disabilities in their libraries, and fourteen parents of young children with disabilities living in the same region were asked about their children’s experiences in public libraries. Scans of twenty ALA-accredited institutions’ course offerings and other professional development training opportunities related to early literacy and disability topics provided additional context. Librarians commented on the relative rarity of children with disabilities at their libraries, while parents were seen to be reluctant to approach librarians to discuss their children’s needs. The parent interviews revealed a broad range of experiences, as some families found their libraries accommodating and others’ experiences were less positive. Even with the very small sample size, the study’s findings support a rationale for more responsive, inclusive early literacy experiences for, and research about, young children with disabilities in public libraries today.
Prendergast, T. (2016). Seeking early literacy for all: An investigation of children’s librarians and parents of young children with disabilities’ experiences at the public library. Library Trends, 65(1), 65-91.


Tess Prendergast

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