1,000 Books Before Kindergarten
It’s a simple act: an adult reading aloud to a child. But the simplicity underlies great importance. According to reading and learning experts, reading aloud with children is the single most important activity for parents to prepare children to learn to read. It can:
- Stimulate language and cognitive skills
- Build motivation, curiosity and memory
- Build vocabulary
- Encourage positive feelings about books and reading later in life
- Help children cope during stressful times
The Fond du Lac Public Library’s new early literacy program 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten will encourage parents to make the time necessary for this essential building block of learning. The program will kick off with a free family concert on January 21.
“Literacy is the cornerstone of learning,” said Children’s Services Coordinator Julia Cartwright. “Reading aloud to children – from the very beginning of a child’s life – creates the best environment for success in school. It’s a gift parents can give to their children that will pay off their whole lives.”
The free program will help parents keep track of reading, at home, day care, preschool and 4K and will provide incentives to keep parents motivated through the child’s preschool years. At each 100-book level, parents and children receive rewards such as free books and gift cards for local merchants to keep them motivated to continue. After achieving each 100-book milestone, the child’s name will appear on a giant banner in the Children’s Room. At completion, the parent and child’s accomplishment will be recognized by having the child’s name inscribed on a bookplate in a Children’s collection book. Children who finish also will be invited to a celebration hosted by Browser, the library’s mascot and spokesdog for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.
“This program is intended to reinforce parents’ role as their child’s first and best teachers,” said Cartwright. “But the program will be big on fun, too, with activities throughout the year to keep the momentum going.”
According to Reading Rockets, a national literacy program, many students enter kindergarten performing below their peers and remain behind as they move through the grades and confront more-challenging reading material.
More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display difficulties at the end of fourth grade. And three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school. Along with learning challenges, reading difficulties have been linked to social and behavioral issues. According to TeachSafeSchools.org, reading problems may contribute to negative behaviors that include disruptive classroom behavior, placement in remedial classrooms with antisocial peers, grade retention, poor school attendance, suspensions and eventual dropout.
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten aims to help parents give their children a solid learning foundation. Parents can sign up starting January 21 at the library’s Children’s Desk. They will receive a starter kit and instructions on how to participate.
The program is supported by community donations, including contributions from Cujak's Wine Market and the Fond du Lac Charity Club. For more information about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, contact the Children’s Desk at (920) 929-7080, ext. 127.