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A Resource for Libraries

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Kids and their parents at the library Parents playing peek-a-boo A parent reading a book with a child Kid playing at the library

Learning

a girl writing on a school boardPut simply, the first five years of life lay the foundation for everything that is to follow. A large and growing body of research provides persuasive evidence confirming the particular importance of these first years in the development of a child's brain. During this time, neural connections are established that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behavior and emotional health.

All learning is a developmental process. Children and their skill sets become increasingly complex and organized with age. Everything a child sees, touches, tastes, smells or hears helps to shape the brain for thinking, feeling, moving, and learning. When children have high-quality early learning experiences they are better prepared to succeed in school and in life.

Families and communities — including libraries — can play critical roles in providing the types of environments and experiences that best support the optimal development and learning of infants, toddlers and preschool children.

Libraries are trusted, welcoming places where children make discoveries, deepen common interests, expand words and knowledge, and connect their natural curiosity to the wider world. Neuroscientists tell us that the type of learning that occurs in libraries — self-directed, experiential, content-rich — promotes executive function skills that can shape a child's future. The experiences, resources, and interactions provided by libraries build brains and fuel a love of learning.

"STUDY AFTER STUDY SHOWS THAT THE SOONER A CHILD BEGINS LEARNING, THE BETTER HE OR SHE DOES DOWN THE ROAD ... SO LET'S DO WHAT WORKS, AND MAKE SURE NONE OF OUR CHILDREN START THE RACE OF LIFE ALREADY BEHIND. LET'S GIVE OUR KIDS THAT CHANCE."

— President Barack Obama
State of the Union Address, February 12, 2013