Guided by Meaning in Primary Literacy
Libraries, Reading, Writing, and Learning
by Joyce Armstrong Carroll, Kelley Barger, Karla James, and Kristy Hill
December 2016, 297pp, 8 1/2 x 11
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-4408-4398-3
$50, £39, 44€, A69
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4399-0
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Make literacy fun! Use these lessons written by a team of experts and their proven methods to extend learning in deep and powerful ways in your library and classroom.

Using a research-based approach, this book examines the critical connections between writing and reading, and it explains how to encourage early literacy in the classroom and library.

How can teachers and librarians support true literacy in young learners? Are very young children guided by meaning in constructing their reality and their relationship to the world? What is the value of championing writing at the kindergarten level? Guided by Meaning in Primary Literacy: Libraries, Reading, Writing, and Learning answers these questions and many more, providing best practices in early literacy through explicit lessons in writing and reading and demonstrating how the library can extend learning in deep and powerful ways.

While some books emphasize reading, others emphasize writing, and still others focus on library instruction, this profound resource brings all of the components of literacy together in a meaningful way. Throughout the book, the authors highlight examples of student writing, anecdotes from the real world, and connections between theory and what happens in practical application. Unique in its thoroughness of content for this age group, this text is essential reading for all early childhood teachers and librarians working in schools and in public libraries with young children. The book also serves trainers working with teachers and librarians to increase their effectiveness in working with young children to promote early literacy.


  • Provides critical information that helps educators improve early literacy programs—a current need in libraries of all types
  • Combines research findings about early literacy that document the connection between writing and reading with meaningful theory to offer a strong rationale for library programming
  • Reminds readers of the inherent joy and value of working with young children by telling them stories and engaging them in magical early literacy activities in the classroom and library
Joyce Armstrong Carroll, EDD, HLD, is codirector of Abydos Literacy Learning. She is the author of more than 20 professional books and more than 50 professional articles. Carroll holds an honorary degree from Georgian Court University for her "mark on the world of education and in so doing influenced the future for good," and was awarded the Edmund J. Farrell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts.

Kelley Barger, EDD, is professor and director of reading programs at Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO. She is author of Phonics Friendly Families and part of an author collegium for Abydos Pro, a dynamic writing and grammar curriculum for grades pre-K through 12th. Barger has taught reading and writing methodology, emergent literacy, educational research, family literacy, early childhood curriculum, and children's literature in both undergraduate and graduate programs at Texas A&M University-Commerce, University of Houston, Stephens College, and Fontbonne University. She taught kindergarten in Houston, TX; served as a team leader; and created and coordinated a vibrant family literacy program, KID Connection, in Spring ISD. She is cohost of a children's literature blog,, and is a diamond level trainer with Abydos Learning International.

Karla James is an educator with 15 years of experience with the Alvin Independent School District in Texas. As literacy coordinator and writing trainer, James has developed expertise in the area of early literacy while working with primary teachers and students to support the implementation of best literacy practices. She has written curriculum for kindergarten and first grade audiences, presented numerous professional development sessions and conferences across the state, and is the recipient of the Abydos Sue German Award and the Abydos Jan DeBlance Memorial Award for Instructional Excellence.

Kristy Hill, MLS, is a library media technology specialist for Keller Independent School District, Keller, TX. She has worked in education for fifteen years. She is a writing trainer and has brought that knowledge to the library, where she teaches literacy as part of her library lessons. Hill is also a member of the Texas Library Association.


"This manual makes a compelling case for writing as an important facet of children’s library experiences. . . . Experienced teacher librarians will appreciate the workable advice to be found in this title."—Choice, April 4, 2017

"A practical and important book on supporting early literacy in schools and libraries with lessons in writing and reading. The title's most crucial arguments are that literacy (and, for that matter, anything) should resonate with those we teach and that 'brain research has supported meaningful instruction for decades and continues to support it by proving that the brain neither attends nor retains what it perceives as meaningless'—a powerful statement backed up by research. The authors are successful in demonstrating how libraries can extend learning in deep and powerful ways. They highlight examples of student writing anecdotes from the real world and make connections between theory and practical application. While the text is grounded in research, Carroll, Barger, James, and Hill don't neglect to present lessons and stories that reflect the true joy of reading and how magical early literacy activities can be for young children. VERDICT A must-read for early childhood educators."—School Library Journal, May 1, 2017

"Teachers of children in first to second grades will find this handbook meaningful and liberating, and librarians can offer this book as an excellent reference. Recommended."—School Library Connection, August 1, 2017
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