Examining the Effectiveness of Book Distribution Programming on English As a Second Language Children: The Imagination Library Program and Implications for Refugee Resettlement

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Frank RIDZI, Le Moyne College, USA, CNYCF, USA
In this paper we examine the use of the Imagination Library book distribution program to assist children in their preparation for the English and book-centered U.S.A. educational system. This research is set in Syracuse, New York, USA, a federal refugee resettlement community that accepts an average of 450 to more than 800 refugees annually from some 38 countries. An additional 250 secondary refugees, those who first settled elsewhere, come to Syracuse each year. The Imagination library program mails one book per month to each child’s home from birth to age 5 in an effort to provide needed literacy materials and catalyze excitement about engaging with printed text. Specifically, we examined the effects on speakers of languages other than English (which is the primary language of instruction in Syracuse schools).In this current research we find that consistent exposure to the program (i.e. 3 to 4 years of the 5 year program) is associated with a significantly higher proportion of ESL children being screened as ready for kindergarten.  Given our previous research suggesting high levels of book-centered parent and child interactions among refugee families enrolled in the program, we feel that the findings of this study could have significant implications for refugee resettlement communities internationally. This is particularly true given that the programming is fairly inexpensive and therefore can serve as the backbone for more intensive efforts.