Early Years Handbook for Public Libraries

We now know that the first years of a child’s life are vital to their development. Eighty per cent of a child’s brain development takes place by age 3, and ninety per cent by age 5. One of the most important activities anyone can do with a baby or young child is to share stories, and it’s never too early to start. Public libraries are uniquely placed to support literacy development from birth, offering free early years learning programs and free access to library resources in English and community languages. Libraries play a crucial role in families’ lives by providing them with a safe and welcoming environment to connect and engage with their communities. Story Time, Baby Bounce, Rhyme Time and Toddler Time are just some of the early childhood programs that libraries offer. Quality early years programs are fun, engaging and support families to recognise themselves as their children’s first educators. Through role-modelling, these programs equip families to support early brain and literacy development at home.

The handbook is designed to assist public libraries in delivery of their early years programs. It contains information and resources that can be adapted to the needs and contexts of libraries and communities across Victoria. The handbook is the revision of a toolkit previously created by Raising Literacy Australia for State Library Victoria (SLV) and Public Libraries Victoria (PLV) in 2017 as part of a broad program to support public library work in the early years domain. This revised resource, created by Raising Literacy Australia in partnership with Public Libraries Victoria, focuses specifically on inclusive early years literacy practice to ensure that every family feels welcome in their library community. The handbook will help library staff to create opportunities for all children to see themselves and their families in the stories they read, sing, listen to, watch, feel and/or sign.

Access the digital version here Early Years Handbook for Public Libraries

As a supplement to the handbook, a suite of webinars are also offered to public library staff engaged in early literacy programs and services. The webinars are designed to support staff with a focus on inclusive early years practice to foster belonging, genuine engagement and participation of all members of our community. The webinar recordings are available to PLV members as part of a support package for the Handbook.

Webinar 1: Early Literacy in Your Library 

Webinar 2: Early Years Programming for Neurodiversity 

Webinar 3: Early Years Programming for First Nations 

Webinar 4: Early Years Programming for Rainbow Families  

Webinar 5: Early Years Programming for Cultural Diversity 

Webinar 6: Early Years Inclusion for Physical and Intellectual Disabilities 


Please contact Christine Peters, PLV Project Officer [email protected] for more information