The Need

Forty-six percent of San Diego Unified School District and 68 of South Bay Unified School District third graders do not meet grade-level standards for reading and writing. 

Sharing books, conversations, and songs with young children helps them develop language skills. This type of sharing contributes to children’s healthy development, provides skills to succeed in school, and helps assure that they will learn to love reading. Research show investments in early education, particularly among disadvantaged children, go beyond improved learning outcomes and also make children more social, motivated, and confident. This is why the Library Foundation supports library programs for the youngest learners.

Young boy excited to receive his first library card and his Odi plush toy.

Reading to children from a young age improves their future literacy.

Library Solutions

My First Library Card

This program encourages young readers and their parents to build a lifelong connection to libraries. Families receive a welcome bag with their baby’s first library card and a copy of Odi’s Library Day, a bilingual board book the Library published in 2020. In the story, ODI (Opportunity, Discovery, Inspiration) the Coyote visits the Central Library for the first time with their parent, receives their first library card, attends a storytime where they learn about kites, and discovers the Innovation Lab where Odi creates a kite. In the program’s first eight months, the library issued 4,767 cards to young children, a more than 2,200 percent increase over the prior fiscal year!

Summer Reading Program

Every June to August, the Summer Reading Program fights summer slide” and keeps children engaged, learning and reading. Participants who read ten or more books (ten hours for teens in the Shiley Teen Summer Reading Program) receive prizes. The Summer Reading Program has encouraged more than one million children and teens to discover recreational reading and prepared them to return to school confident and ready to learn. The Library Foundation strengthens this program by sponsoring community read-a-thons, supporting summer educational camps, and expanding its reach.

Summer reading keeps learners engaged like these girls who won a box of Otter Pops at a Linda Vista Library coloring contest.

Families for Literacy

Offered through READ/​San Diego, Families for Literacy helps break the cycle of intergenerational low-literacy. The program teaches low-literate parents and caregivers how to read to their children and be their children’s first teacher. At any one time, the program helps more than 100 participating families who receive age-appropriate books that help build home libraries — a critical component of improving literacy for the whole family.

My students had a great time at the Library! My kids experienced a field trip adventure..and a whole new world full of adventures written in books. We, as a class, will keep talking about the resources that the library is offering.”

Hawking’s Charter School Second-grade teacher Maribel Aranibar

Recent early education work