CLPE logoA recently released study from the UK Centre for Literacy and Primary Education (CLPE – is this group a rough equivalent of the American IRA?) reveals that many teachers aren’t using children’s books well with their classes. The CLPE has been running a study called “The Power of Reading” since 2005, with the goal of “enhanc[ing] teachers’ and children’s pleasure in reading and rais[ing] children’s achievement through developing teachers’ knowledge of literature and its use in the primary classroom.”

The study of the first two years of the project tells us that plenty of teachers don’t know children’s literature well, and aren’t using it knowledgeably with their classes. I have a fairly strong feeling – based on what I’ve heard over the years from public children’s librarians across the US – that things aren’t that much different in this country. We can only guess about this, of course, because I haven’t heard of a recent similar study in the US. Elementary teachers here aren’t required to take coursework in children’s literature, and often don’t keep track of what’s new and interesting in children’s books.

And many states, filled with school districts that are sweating to pay for their classroom teachers under No Child Left Behind, don’t require elementary schools to hire certified media specialists. That means, of course, that plenty of teachers don’t have someone to advise them about what’s new and cool in children’s books – except for the local public children’s librarian.

And it’s hard to make contact with local classroom teachers – unless we pick up that phone and call the schools around us.