1000 books program gets new readers off to royal start

In June, 2017, Tiffany Rathburn reads to her daughter Zoey, who is signed up for the 1,000 books before kindergarten program.

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Some local royalty will be crowned on Saturday.

About 20 local preschoolers who have “read” 1000 Books before Kindergarten will get crowns of their own as part of the celebration Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Wood County District Public Library.

The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program was launched last year, and it’s been a success, said Children’s Librarian Maria Simon. About 800 children are enrolled, with more being signed up each day. She hopes more will join on Saturday, moving the library closer to the goal of having 1,000 participants.

The program encourages reading 1,000 books before children enter school. That’s not 1,000 different books. These are toddlers, and they may want to hear the same book over and over again, and then yet again. A book read aloud to a group by a child care provider or library staff member counts as well.

Simon said she intentionally kept the record keeping simple. Just tally the books, without worrying about titles or minutes spent reading. Everything can be done online at wcdpl.readsquared.com.

Every child who is enrolled gets a free book, and then they get stickers along with way to celebrate each 100 read.

When they get halfway through, they get to pick a book from the library’s collection, and a bookplate noting their achievement is put in the book.

At 1,000 they get a crown.

For the inaugural year, the children received a book by Denise Fleming, who was the special guest author at last June’s kickoff celebration. Starting in Saturday, the children will receive Shari Halpern’s book “Dinosaur Parade.”

Halpern will give a presentation at 11 a.m. Saturday and then sign books.

Simon said both Halpern and Fleming were very supportive and enthusiastic about the program.

Some of the older participants do enjoy seeing their numbers go up and up. But for most the biggest benefit of the program is the time spent with parents, or grandparents or childcare providers reading. And to get a 1,000 books read, it takes all of them.

One child told, Simon that if it wasn’t for his two grandmas, he wouldn’t have read all those books.

Simon said she enjoys watching children develop their taste. They get to explore the library’s large selection of picture books. They find characters they like, or realize they prefer funny books. Then after every 100 books, they get to pick a favorite in which their name can be included.

“That’s been really fun to have those conversations,” Simon said.

The program is collaborating with the Wood County Early Childhood Task Force. “It’s really a community partnership,” Simon said.

That’s helping to draw children into the program who may not otherwise visit the library. They learn about it from their childcare providers, or at the doctor’s office or through Jobs and Family Services. It encourages people to come to the library and discover the resources that the library offers, not just for children but adults.

On Saturday a number of area agencies, programs, and pre-schools will be on hand for a resource fair.

The cost of the program was picked up by the Friends of the Library in the first year, and now the Library Foundation is paying the costs, Simon said.

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