The Youngstown Free Library has announced the kick-off of a new program designed to encourage a love of books and reading, titled "1,000 books before Kindergarten."
Children and parents/caregivers can register and pick up the first page of a reading log where they can keep track of books shared together. In addition, the child's "bookshelf" will be added to the Youngstown Free Library's 1,000 books bulletin board. As each 100 books are completed, a book on the child's bookshelf will be colored in. Rewards will be given intermittently along the 1,000-book journey. Upon completion of reading 1,000 books, children will receive a certificate of achievement.
"The library has been looking for a program to promote the importance of reading to children at a young age," said Jan Gilgore, library director. "The goal of this project is to help kids enter school ready to learn. We noticed that many other libraries across the country had great success with this program."
She notes the year-round program is for newborns up to children entering kindergarten and is open all library patrons - residents as well as nonresidents. Parents do need a NIOGA Library System card.
"This is the longest open-ended reading program the library has promoted," Gilgore said. "Research shows that it is never too early to start reading to your child. Reading helps build your child's vocabulary and communication skills, which lead to academic success. Reading also stimulates your child's imagination, builds listening skills, increases attention span, helps define motor skills, nurtures a strong relationship between parent and child and proves that books are fun."
The program has been used across the country to increase awareness of the importance of early literacy.
"A child's parents and caregivers are their first teacher. This can include parents, siblings, grandparents, nannies as well as other family and friends. A book counts no matter who reads it," Gilgore said.
There are no special books for this program, she said. The library has many.
"Children also can begin the program at any point, but it will end when they start kindergarten," Gilgore said.
This program is funded by the Youngstown Free Library and Friends of the Youngstown Free Library. For more information, call the library at 716-745-3555.