LENA for Libraries

Early childhood program for libraries


Libraries around the country — large and small, urban and rural alike — have found LENA Start parent-group classes to be a valuable tool for engaging families of infants and toddlers. LENA Start is an evidence-based community program designed to help families learn how to increase conversation with their children during the first few years of life. The program can be delivered virtually, in person, or through a combination of in-person and virtual sessions. The three-month program can help with:


Supporting healthy early literacy practices like talking, reading, and singing


Providing caregivers with unique, actionable data on how their actions are impacting their children’s development


Enticing new families in the door and into connection with library resources


Creating a safe space for families from vulnerable populations to connect, organize, and unite

Encouraging native language reclamation and a celebration of bilingualism in families who speak minoritized languages (LENA works in every language!)


Quickly launching a turnkey virtual family engagement program that can easily be incorporated into existing systems of outreach

What implementers are saying about LENA Start in libraries:


“We want every child to be able to read and be literate. We emphasize early literacy skills by educating parents on five practices — talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. LENA fits in with our mission, because it emphasizes talk and parent education, which are some of our goals in the children’s department.”

“What I love about having the LENA Start class at the library is that we create a habit of going to the library in these families. When we talk to families in focus groups, they say that they used to come to the library maybe once a month or less. After LENA Start, they’re starting to come every week. I know a lot of them stay connected after the class — they make friendships and support groups.”

“By expanding LENA Start through our Talk Read Sing program to local community organizations that provide services to high-need communities, we are able to strengthen our reach for providing families with early literacy engagement for their babies. The Talk Read Sing collaboration perfectly fits our mission to create opportunities for growth and enrichment in the communities we serve.”


“We consider ourselves to be a progressive, future-looking library system. We’re incredibly driven by connections and collaborations with others in the city to get things done. We want to move the needle so children can be more prepared to read and write when they get to school, but we also know LENA Start can really make an impact on the families’ lives.”

“This is not your grandmother’s library. We’re asking how the library changes and adapts as less things are in print, and more things are available digitally so that it remains a valuable resource in the community. We see LENA as being a really valuable piece in terms of using technology to help us meet those goals.”

“One of the greatest things we are learning about working with LENA Start at the Denver Public Library has been about how deep and authentic our community connections have been while working with families.”


Outcomes that will last a lifetime


Researchers at Iowa State University found that families who attended LENA Start at the Ames Public Library increased adult-child talk and conversational turns significantly more than families who just visited the library or attended library programs. This suggests that LENA Start is a valuable add-on to existing library programming, offering unique training and tools for families that can’t be achieved through storytimes or casual visits alone. These classes are a way to make a meaningful, measurable difference for young children in your community.  Read more about these results.


Learn more about how other libraries are using LENA! This 30-minute overview webinar highlights key features of the program and explores case studies of how other libraries have implemented the program.


Watch a Library Webinar

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