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The Need

Early-literacy has been identified as a major area of concern for the city, and Nashville Public Library is the only institution in town providing in-depth early-literacy programs on a large scale, free of charge. 

Literacy shapes life. Children who are not reading on grade level by third grade have been shown to struggle throughout their school years. Adults who cannot read experience worse health outcomes and longer-term poverty than those who are literate. Nashville Public Library provides multiple options for lifelong learning to all Nashvillians at each of its 21 branches. 

Whether its access to traditional, electronic, or audio books, NPL has a vast collection of resources in English as well as other languages spoken in the community. Beyond books, it provides the services to assist readers in gaining the skills and proficiency to access them.

Library Solutions funded by NPLF

Bringing Books to Life (BBTL)

NPL’s award-winning, flagship, early-literacy program provides quality classroom materials, professional development for teachers, and workshops that support family literacy practices, free of charge, across nearly 160 early childhood education programs. Children who enter school ready to learn are more likely to meet grade level reading expectations by third grade, and BBTL gets them ready for success. To meet needs where they exist in the community, NPL partners with multiple organizations in town to bring services to those who are unable to come to the library. Conexion Americas, Schwab Elementary, Bethany Services are just a few.

BBTL promotes reading skills, artistic exploration, and critical-thinking in a whole-child approach to literacy education. BBTL staff partner with over 300 community organizations to serve approximately 12,000 kids and caregivers. 

Limitless Libraries

Over 85,000 Metro Nashville Public School students and teachers benefit from Limitless Libraries (LL). A shared catalog and school IDs that double as library cards provide students, their families, and educators access to the over 2 million items in NPL’s collection delivered to their schools within three days. 

Research shows a correlation between strong libraries and better prepared students, and LL helps keep school libraries stocked with current and relevant books that kids want to read. Even better, the partnership saves half a million dollars a year for our schools.

Wishing Chair

Wishing Chair Productions is dedicated to the preservation, cultivation, and advancement of the puppetry arts within the Nashville Public Library and the community it serves. Within the last year, Wishing Chair Productions has performed 224 puppet shows for approximately 20,870 patrons. The Puppet Truck delivers sophisticated storytelling  that inspires the love of reading through the puppetry arts. Puppet shows are brought to schools, community centers and retirement centers all over Nashville. Wishing Chair welcomed author and Old Crow Medicine Show founder, Ketch Secor, to the Children’s Theater for a special performance based on his book, Loraine: The Girl Who Sang the Storm Away. 

Children’s Programming

Nearly every day, NPL offers high quality, programming free of charge for children of all ages. Programs such as Babies and Books, preschool storytimes in English and Spanish, Wishing Chair Productions, Music and Movement, Homeschool Friends, and

Creation Station art activities form a powerhouse of high-quality educational opportunities that deliver essential early literacy skills.

Because learning to read starts long before a child begins school, NPL has developed Countdown to Kindergarten to help prepare those children who are unable to attend a preschool.

The Children’s World Language Collection at NPL offers over 7,000 items, including books with audio narration, in 28 languages. Access to multilingual materials helps teach children their family’s native language and supports their family members who are learning a new language.

Summer Reading 

NPL’s Summer Reading Challenge offers free, constructive, supervised activities to keep young minds engaged and active in a safe, welcoming environment throughout the summer months. A study by MNPS confirmed that students who participated in the Summer Reading Challenge showed an increase in test scores from spring to fall. Skills with a big dose of fun.

Adult Literacy

NPL connects Davidson County’s adult literacy community by serving as a central hub where adult learners and the organizations serving them can get information, access to education technologies and tools, and become enriched through professional development. NPL’s Adult Literacy program aligns library resources to meet community need in the areas of High School Equivalency (HSE), English Language Learners (ELL), Job Skills, and Digital Literacy.

NPL’s Adult Literacy Programs (ALP) provide access and improves lives in our community for over 1,500 people each year. NPLALP connects agencies that work with adult-learner populations to one another, and to adult learners seeking services. Partners conduct classes for reading, English as a second language, citizenship, computer skills, high school equivalence (HSE) attainment, and more. For adult learners–including immigrants, refugees, HSE-seekers, and people returning to the Nashville community after incarceration- ALP programs can be life-changing. In addition to providing space and connections for these programs, NPL provides develops new resources for teachers and students as well as ongoing professional development support for teachers.