Reading 1,000 books to preschoolers adds up to kindergarten readiness

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

The Children’s Place at the Wood County Library is building on its summer reading program for school age children to launch a new program for infants through preschoolers.

The library is challenging parents and child caregivers, and others in youngsters’ lives to read them 1,000 books before they enter kindergarten.

Children’s librarian Maria Simon said she’s wanted to offer the national initiative as a incentive to get parents, child caregivers, relatives, and maybe even a grandparent, via Skype reading to youngsters.

The program will be launched Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon in the library atrium. Denise Fleming, an award winning author and illustrator, will be on hand. Each child who is enrolled will receive a copy of Fleming’s book “Alphabet Under Construction,” which ties into the summer reading theme “Building a Better World.” If there’s more than one child in the family signing up, another Fleming title will be available.

About 100 children have already been enrolled. Simon is hoping younger siblings will sign up as older children sign up for the summer reading program.

The kick-off will also include an Early Childhood Resource Fair presented by the Wood County Early Childhood Task Force as well as local childcare providers and agencies.

Simon said each booth will have some sort of literacy activity. She said she’s letting them know about Fleming’s other books – she’s published more than 20 since 1991.

Fleming will give a presentation to children and families, and then to those participating in the resource fair.

Fleming lives in her hometown Toledo where she creates her illustrations painting with pulp.

“She understands the value of this program,” Simon said. “Everyone who reads to kids is a fan of hers.”

The 1,000 books goal is flexible. It can mean the same book read many times. Simon said she recently read “Alphabet Under Construction” three times to a group of children, along with singing the alphabet three books, she said.

A book a day makes the goal in three years, three books a day achieves it in a year.

Tiffany Rathburn said that at first 1,000 books seemed like a lot, until library staff explained all the ways that it could be accomplished. Telling a story to her 19-month-old Zoey counts, or having her 9-year-old Alexis read to her little sister counts.

Rathburn said her older kids are involved in the summer reading program, and she liked that now there’s an option for littler ones.

The 1,000 Books initiative lasts year round. It ends when the child meets the 1,000 book goal or enters kindergarten. Simon said that a few of the older children will be reading by the time they reach the 1,000 book mark.

Simon said she hopes to have an annual celebration of the program in the summer.

Each child will receive a recognition sticker for every 100 books. At the midpoint, a child will get to select a library book and the staff will place a bookplate with their name on inside.

When they hit a 1,000 books they’ll get another free book of their choosing, and have their photo taken with a crown and sash as a royal reader. The photos will be posted on the library website as well as by BG Independent News.

“It’s definitely doable and it’s really important,” Simon said. “The best thing you can do to get your child ready for kindergarten, to get them ready to read, is to read to them.”

“For kindergarten, it’s crazy what they have to know,” said Rathburn. Children are expected to be almost reading.

The Friends of the Library is funding the project, Simon said. The group, she noted, also funds the longer standing early reading initiative that gives board books to babies born at the Wood County Hospital.

These early reading initiatives are important, Simon said. “The more reading we’re all doing with children, the more empowered and ready for kindergarten they’ll be. And just the value of talking about books is so wonderful. And there’s the fun the stories bring to a child’s life.”

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