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Posted on: November 15, 2021

New library programs help families prepare kids for Kindergarten

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

West Fargo Public Library helps families prepare kids for Kindergarten through new programs

Public launch party 4 – 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at West Fargo Library

(West Fargo, N.D. Nov. 9, 2021) In 2020, 50% of children entering Kindergarten in West Fargo were behind in their early literacy skills. These skills, like recognizing letters, vocabulary and comprehension, are essential for academic success but need to be practiced at home before the child heads to school. The West Fargo Public Library is working to help families do this by launching services especially for young children and their parents – like the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program

“The gap in school readiness has a number of causes,” Children’s Services Librarian Sarah Davis said. “Parents may not have the money or resources to help prepare their child for Kindergarten or to send their child to preschool, but it is so important to expose children to reading during their early years. It’s essential for development. That’s where we come in.” 

The library’s 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is for children ages 0 – 5 and their parents. The goal is just what it sounds like – to read 1000 books with your child before they head to school. Families who sign up receive a free kit filled with resources to help parents reach this goal, incorporate reading, talking, writing, singing and playing into activity at home, and start their child’s education on the right foot. The kit includes a free tote bag, a free book to start the child’s collection, a 1000 Books challenge tracking booklet, easily applicable tools and tips for parents and more. Along the way, children earn fun and educational rewards for reaching reading milestones. The rewards also support their early literacy skill growth. Interested families can sign up and receive their kit at the service desk at the West Fargo Public Library or register online at westfargolibrary.org/beanstack and then visit the library to pick up their kit.  

 “A thousand books may sound like a lot, but this is a common goal and is easily attainable,” Davis said. “If you read a bedtime story each night, that’s 365 books a year and that’s also as many as 78,000 words that the child has been exposed to.”

Reading to children is about more than teaching them how to read though. 

“When parents read to their children they are bonding with them and teaching the child to associate reading with positive feelings, which they will draw upon when they are older,” Davis said.

The West Fargo Library is passionate about ensuring West Fargo’s children are ready to read and succeed in school. The library even included this as a primary goal in their recently released 2022 – 2024 strategic plan and, in addition to the new 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, the library also offers My First Library Cards, public storytimes, partnerships with local daycares, the Little Red Reading Bus and more for young readers and their families. 

My First Library Cards will be available for pre-Kindergarten children beginning Wednesday, Nov. 17. The cards allow kids to take ownership of their library experience and to get them excited about checking out their own books.

The library also offers two public one-hour storytimes each week. Early Literacy Storytime takes place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays. Here children and caregivers participate in activities that reinforce early literacy skills through reading, playing and creating in a safe and encouraging space. Baby Boost Storytime for children ages two and under takes place at 10:30 a.m. Fridays. Here children and caregivers interact and grow language and social skills through books, rhymes, signs and playing together. 

The West Fargo Library also works with local daycares to provide special in-daycare storytimes and activities as well as book deliveries. To learn more about daycare visits and deliveries, visit www.westfargolibrary.org/daycares.To learn more about the West Fargo Public Library’s early literacy programs and services visit www.westfargolibrary.org/readytoread or visit the library during the Ready to Read Program Launch Party from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the West Fargo Public Library. 

“Kids under the age of five make up nearly 10% of the population in our school district,” Davis said. “It is our hope that the parents of those thousands of kids will join us at our party to learn more about how we can help ensure their child is ready to read and succeed.”