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Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear - Promoting emergent literacy

Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear - Promoting emergent literacy

Libraries in Lisbon are addressing the country’s literacy deficit through an initiative to raise parental awareness of the importance of children’s early introduction to books and storytelling.

Age group

Preprimary Age,Adults,Family Literacy

Policy Area

Creating a literate environment

People Involved

Families, Health and social workers, Librarians, Municipalities and job centres, Educational specialists, Volunteers


• establish routines and habits of contact with books through libraries
• encourage family contact with books at home
• enrich interactions between parents and children around books


Public Libraries are addressing the literacy deficit in Portugal by raising parental awareness of the importance of early reading and contact with books as foundational to later literacy success. A range of different initiatives focuses on addressing the three clear goals that inform an overall library strategy for family literacy. The overall intention is to provide families with the skills they need to develop their children's literacy.

Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear targets babies from nine to 36 months and their families and focuses on enriching the interactions between parents, children and texts, adolescents and adults. In order to encourage families to develop routines and habits of contact with books, and provide parents with information on emergent literacy, the public libraries in Lisbon organize reading activities for children and their families during which reading promoters lead sessions that involve storytelling, book readings, songs and other activities based on themes familiar to the children.

The programme is implemented by the Lisbon Council through its libraries and grounded in literature related to emergent literacy that highlights the importance of oral storytelling in early childhood and the need to raise parental awareness of children's early contact with books and reading.

Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear is part of a wider Lisbon libraries strategy, Biblioteca XX1, which links libraries to local communities so that they become learning spaces for babies, children, adolescents and adults.

As part of this library strategy, the Family Reading programme loans themed bags of literature in different media for children under three.  Each bag contains four books with suggestions for their use written by parents. The bags include a notebook in which parents can record what they do and their child’s reaction to the stories. There is also an online service, Bridges of Reading, which provides information for parents, educators and teachers about children’s literature and emergent literacy as well as library sessions with experts in reading and child development.  

Project website

Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear (Portuguese)

Project Materials

Family Reading Programme

Mimos e Livros à Mão de Semear