Children aged two to three, along with their families, listen to Youth Services Assistant Manager Meghan Patijarevich read them a story during the Tiny Tots Storytime on Monday at the Marysville Public Library. Storytime is offered multiple times a week and provides the children with a chance to sing, dance and listen to stories. The program is part of the early literacy initiative that launched the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Children in this group can count these books in their log to reach their goal and earn small prizes along the way.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Kristi Fish)
For most, the school year has just ended, but for a batch of children and parents in Marysville, the first day of kindergarten is just around the corner.
On Aug. 20, a group of five- and six-year-olds will walk into school ready to learn. To prepare them for this new experience, Marysville Public Library has launched the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program as part of their early literacy initiative.
“It’s actually a national initiative that libraries all across the country are participating in,” Youth Services Manager Kate McCartney said.
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Foundation has programs in libraries in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with the goal of “establishing strong early literacy skills,” according to their website.
While 1,000 books sounds like a lot, the number was carefully considered to be sure it was an appropriate amount that children and their parents could achieve.
“It’s what we call a Goldilocks number,” McCartney said. “It’s not unattainable, but it’s not too easy for them to reach.”
All children not yet in kindergarten are encouraged to join.
“Reading to infants is just as important as reading to a three year old,” McCartney said. “Reading together is how kids expand their vocabulary and bond with their parents.”
Joining the program is simple and children are rewarded with prizes as they go along.
“They can stop in at the Youth Services desk for a booklet to keep track of their reading,” she said. “They will also receive a bag to carry their books home.”
At each increment of 100 books, kids can come in to receive stickers and at the 300, 600 and 1,000 marks children can receive small prizes, too.
“We also want to start a picture wall for those marks when we get farther into the program,” McCartney said.
However, she doesn’t anticipate all 300 children who have signed up since the launch in February will continue coming back for their prizes.
“Other libraries have been doing this and there aren’t as many statistics about completing the program,” McCartney said. “A lot of times people do it at home and just get the booklet from us. We’re fine with that because our goal is to put reading with their kids in the forefront of their minds.”
While not all children who start the program will finish it at the library, McCartney said there are plenty of studies that prove reading at a young age makes children more successful.
“The more kids read when they are young, the better prepared they are,” she said.
For those interested in the program they are encouraged to head to the library and receive their booklets and McCartney also encourages parents to sign their kids up for the Smart Card.
“They can check out up to five books from the youth section and there are no fines,” she said. “It allows them to learn how to use a card without as many of the consequences.”
The nationally run program is here to help children and parents prepare themselves for school by providing them with incentives and attainable goals.
“We want to create readers and life-long learners,” McCartney said.
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