Library offers ‘1,000 Books Before Kindergarten’

Monticello Public Library Youth Services Director Penny Schmit shows off the goodies in preparation for the library’s “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program. The free early literacy program kicks off Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. at the library, featuring guest readers. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Studies have found that reading to your child before they enter school plays an important role in their educational success in life.

     That’s why the Monticello Public Library is offering a free program called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.”

     Organized by Youth Services Director Penny Schmit, the idea is to read and log how many books you read to your child before they enter kindergarten, typically at age 5.

     “It’s never too early to start reading to your child,” encouraged Schmit. “You can make it a daily habit, starting with your child’s first days.”

     Each family who signs up will be given a logbook and helpful information about the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Once you reach the first 100 books, bring your logbook into the library for a prize. Each milestone will be rewarded.

     Parents aren’t the only ones who can read to the child; Schmit said books that grandparents, daycare providers, or books that are read during the library’s story time count toward the ultimate goal.

     “Families who start reading aloud to their children at birth help build language skills, cultivate an extensive vocabulary, and improve attention spans and listening skills–all important tools for beginning to learn to read in kindergarten,” shared Schmit.

     There are also helpful ways in which families can accomplish the 1,000-book goal:

     • Read one bedtime story every night for three years. That will equal 1,095 books by the time your child is 3 years old.

     • Read 10 books a week for two years.

     • Read 20 books a week for one year (three books a day).

     “The average children’s book takes just five minutes to read,” explained Schmit of how fast it would be to read a few books a night.

     Schmit said even reading your child’s favorite book over and over again counts toward the 1,000 goal.

     According to the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten national website, “as many as 1 in 5 children have difficulty learning to read. Reading has been associated as an early indictor of academic success. Parents and caregivers are the first education providers during the 0 to 5 critical years.”

     The objectives behind the program are to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers; and encourage parents and child bonding through reading.

     So, how can you and your child take part in the library’s program? Stop in the library (205 E. Grand St.) to sign up. Read, read, and read some more. Keep track of how many books are read to your child in the logbook provided. When your child reaches each milestone, stop in the library for a prize and to have his/her picture taken.

     After you have reached the 1,000-book goal, your child will receive a certificate and have his/her name placed on the Wall of Fame inside the library.

     “They also get an awesome jumpstart on success in school,” added Schmit. “It helps foster a new generation of readers.”

     Once your child reaches a higher level of books, you will be given a special book bag as well as a free book.

     Schmit has been working on the program for about a year, securing several funding sources to make it happen: Monticello DuTrac Community Credit Union, Monticello Rotary Club, Monticello Lions Club, and Monticello Eagles Auxiliary. She also received a grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation.

     To help promote the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, there will be a special kick-off event held at the Monticello library on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 10 a.m. There will be guest readers on hand for a special story time: Police Chief Britt Smith, Mayor Dena Himes, State Farm Insurance Agent Rick Meyer, local business owner Katie Farrowe, and Express Editor Kim Brooks.

     For more information, call the library at 319-465-3354.


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