Pictured from L to R: Meghan Lynch, Manager, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library; State Senator Katie Muth; Mary Gazdik, Director, Chester County Library & District Center; Joseph L. Sherwood, Executive Director, Chester County Library System

ROYERSFORD, November 4, 2022: State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) today announced a $125,000 grant to establish a collection of decodable books in every public library across Senate District 44.

The grant, funded through Pennsylvania’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, will be distributed to the Chester County Library System which will facilitate the program for ten libraries in Senate District 44 across Chester, Montgomery, and Berks Counties. The grant will also fund professional development and training opportunities for area librarians and library staff regarding decodable texts and early literacy.

“Libraries have been such an important part of my life and are such critical parts of our communities. The 10 libraries across SD44 have great resources and materials for readers of all ages and levels – but we need to make sure decodable texts are available at our libraries,” Muth said. “This grant is another important initiative to support our young learners and we need to continue to ensure that they have proper educational supports and evidenced-based programming at schools, and also access to appropriate early literacy resources in our public libraries.”

Decodable books are simple books that are written for the beginning reader and contain the specific grapheme–phoneme correspondences students have learned. This provides learners with the opportunity to use their developing segmenting and blending skills to read words in order to develop automaticity, or the ability to recognize words quickly and effortlessly, and experience independent reading success.

“All children benefit from exposure to high quality children’s books, but many children need more explicit instruction to become fluent readers. Decodable readers are one resource that can help support new readers. As more schools use decodable readers in their reading instruction, local libraries want to support children’s learning by making complementary resources available to families,” Joseph L. Sherwood, Executive Director of the Chester County Library System, said. “With every school community working to make sure all children are reading on grade level by third grade, the library sees lending decodable books as another tool to support these new readers and their teachers and caregivers.”

Libraries in Senate District 44 eligible to receive decodable text collections with the grant funding include Atglen Public Library, Chester Springs Library, Henrietta Hankin Branch, Honey Brook Community Library, Parkesburg Free Library, and the Phoenixville Public Library in Chester County; Lower Providence Community Library and Royersford Free Public Library in Montgomery County; and the Boone Area Library in Berks County.

In late October, Senator Muth announced a $3 million grant to create a structured literacy and Science of Reading pilot program that will be facilitated by the Chester County Intermediate Unit and available to all school districts in Senate District 44. Decodable text falls under the phonics approach of the Science of Reading.