Young learners and families

Barriers to access

Literacy skills are increasingly important in today’s knowledge society, but 12.6 per cent of Australians reach adulthood without the basic literacy skills required for everyday life (OECD, Survey of adult skills, 2013). In low socio-economic and culturally and linguistically diverse communities the percentage is much higher. In the early years, only 18 per cent of Australian 3-year-olds participate in early childhood education, compared with the OECD average of 70 per cent, ranking Australia 34 out of the 36 OECD countries. In addition to this, nearly one in five Victorian children of pre-school age is ‘vulnerable’ and one in ten is ‘at risk’ in terms of language and cognitive skills. Research shows that without intervention, these barriers to educational achievement will continue to grow and have lasting effects on the child throughout their life.

Building literacy early

As a public institution, the State Library plays a central role in assisting Victorian children and their families nurture literacy skills and a love of reading. Building this foundation in children and young adults not only improves learning and employment outcomes, but also directly influences the creation of a vibrant, inclusive and prosperous Victoria. Embedding books and stories into daily life also builds general life skills, reflecting the world around us and helping us imagine better futures.

Space for literacy

The Library has seen an increase in demand for literacy programming across all age levels – from the early years, through the middle grades to young adulthood. In addition to continuing our delivery of outstanding programs, events and exhibitions for children and youth, as part of the Vision 2020 building redevelopment project we will construct a new dedicated children’s learning centre – the Children’s Quarter. This dedicated area, as well as revitalising programming, will increase the Library’s engagement with young learners. The Children’s Quarter will be linked to upgraded facilities essential for this age group, including a family room, new toilets and change rooms.