Preschoolers celebrate crowning achievement in reading

By DAVID DUPONT

BG Independent News

Ken and Pam Frisch did their part to help their granddaughters earn their crowns.

The granddaughters, Sophia Kulik, 3, and Savannah Kulik, 4, are among the 23 preschoolers who have met the mark in the Wood County Public Library’s 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge.

Wearing her crown, Sophia Kulik, 3, (left) plays with dinosaurs during celebration of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

The Frisches said they read to the girls, and then logged in the number of books. They were so impressed with the program that they stepped up to help fund it through their Frisch Family Fund.

Both have backgrounds in teaching, “so reading has always been important and pretty special,” Pam Frisch said.

“The library has been an important part of our family,” Ken Frisch said. Their daughters volunteered as teenagers, and now their granddaughters share that connection.

Saturday, the library celebrated the first year of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. As part of the festivities, the children who’d reached the goal received cardboard crowns. Cassie Greenlee, who works in the Children’s Place, said 23 have met the goal.

Julia Kulik, Sophia and Savannah’s mother, said the girls earned their crowns last summer. They started in May, and by August they’d notched 1000 books.

“It was a lot of reading,” she said. “They love it.”

Jensyn Meyer plays a game as her mother, Monica Meyer, right, and Laura Drumm of Northwest Ohio Montessori, looks on.

The girls go to story times at the library. “Everyone in the children’s department is so great and so supportive.”

Sophia will pile up picture books to her waist when she wants to read, her mother said, and that’s all the time.

The grandparents said the girls go through phases in what they want to read. Right now Sophia is captivated by dinosaurs. But “we’re equal opportunity readers,” Pam Frisch said.

The two-hour celebration featured a number of schools, programs and agencies that support children. Most had dinosaur-themed activities in honor of guest author Shari Halpern, whose “Dinosaur Parade” will be given to each child who signs up for the 1000 Books program.

Shari Halpern shows children her original art for “Dinosaur Parade.”

Halpern got her own start as an author-illustrator when she was a child. She enjoyed drawing and coloring. “I loved getting a new box of crayons.” She was always making things for school projects or her dollhouse.

Going into art “was a given,” she said. Becoming a children’ book illustrator was her goal from the time she learned in college that it was a career opportunity.

Halpern has been working in the field since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991.

Halpern’s work is rooted in her home life. As part of her short presentation, she showed a video tour of her studio made by her daughter. The studio’s shelves store vintage lunch boxes, stuffed animals, family photos and more.

Vicky Hihevich reads “Dinosaur Parade” to her baby Michael Pautsina.

Halpern said her three children, now teenagers, are a source of inspiration, whether it’s their love of dinosaurs, cats, or trucks.

Halpern said the 1000 Books program is “fantastic.”

“I’m so impressed with all these little kids reading all these books,” she said. “It’s a really great thing.”

The youngsters’ enthusiasm was evident from the start of her presentation. Halpern was showing the kids the illustrations for “Dinosaur Parade,” when one little guy chimed in with a request: “Will you read that book to us?”

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