Posted on November 1, 2015
By Diane M. Sweetwood
Many research studies have shown the positive effects of quality early childhood education on future academic development, educational attainment, and earnings later in life. Yet, 59% of preschool-aged children across the nation—approximately 2.5 million—are not enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs through state preschool, Head Start, and special education preschool services.
Although as many as 30% of three- and four-year olds are fortunate to attend private preschools and child care centers, hundreds of thousands of children have no access to the programs that can help them build literacy skills and prepare them for kindergarten and beyond. The U.S. Department of Education’s 2015 report, “A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America,” notes that “while both states and the federal government invest in early learning, these efforts have fallen short of what is needed to ensure that all children can access a high-quality early education that will prepare them for success.”
These realities—the importance of early education juxtaposed with gaps in access to quality programs—underscore the value of libraries in providing resources that serve the pre-K audience. In support of public libraries’ learning initiatives, Gale partnered with Miss Humblebee LLC to provide a new digital early literacy product—Miss Humblebee’s Academy—that assists libraries’ youngest learners in building foundational literacy skills. Digital resources are increasingly prevalent and in demand, and 62% of libraries report that they are the only provider of free computer and Internet access in their community.