Santa Barbara Public Library System Receives $10,000 Grant for Bilingual Children’s Books

Santa Barbara Public Library System Receives $10,000 Grant for Bilingual Children’s Books
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Source: City of Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara Public Library System is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the California State Library to purchase bilingual books for children. This grant is part of the California Immigrant Alliance Project, funded through the Library Services and Technology Act, a federal program administered by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. These books will be added to the existing bilingual children’s book collections of all branches of the library system, including the Central, Eastside, Goleta, Montecito, Carpinteria, Solvang, and Buellton libraries.

California is home to more than 10 million immigrants. The latest available data shows that nearly 27% of California’s population is foreign born, about twice the US percentage overall. Public libraries play a key role in welcoming and educating immigrants. The Immigrant Alliance Project was created to support libraries as they create, enhance, and extend services to immigrants and their families.

The most recent data indicates that 32% of students in Santa Barbara County are classified as English Learners. That percentage jumps to over 60% at some local elementary schools. Bilingual books are a great way to support literacy in a child’s first language, while also providing the opportunity to practice reading in English. Continued development of a child’s first language supports linguistic and cognitive development in English and allows students to think, talk, read and write at a higher level than if they were limited to using English.

Bilingual books are excellent resources for parents of English Learners, particularly when parents and caregivers are not proficient English speakers. These books can help parents learn vocabulary along with their child, as well as giving them an opportunity for them to be actively involved in their children’s literacy in both languages.

Sharing bilingual books with children of all backgrounds can help them develop tolerance and more open ideas about other cultures while supporting literacy in multiple languages. In our increasingly global society, individuals who are multilingual and able to work across cultures are better prepared for a variety of careers.

“The Santa Barbara Public Library System wants our collections and resources to reflect the communities we serve, which is why it’s so important for us to have books in English and Spanish,” said Library Director Jessica Cadiente. “We’re pleased to be able to meet the demand for bilingual children’s books in our service area, and will promote the collection in conjunction with programs we offer, such as bilingual storytimes.” 

The additional books purchased with the grant will be distributed throughout the Santa Barbara Public Library System branches, especially those that serve increasingly bilingual communities, such as the Eastside Library and the Carpinteria Library.

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