By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Public Library has received a $5,000 grant from the 3M Company to fund the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.
Beverly Bernier, representing 3M in Menomonie, presented a “big check” to Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library, and Jolene Albricht, youth services librarian, on Friday, August 24.
“It’s so neat to reach the kids at such a young age … Right from the parents’ laps. That’s where it all begins,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“My grandkids get so excited when they are in town, and they get to go to the library. They just love coming here,” said Bernier, who is a rural Colfax resident.
“We made it for the Halloween party last year, and they loved it,” Bernier noted.
“The smell of the books is my favorite smell in the world,” she said.
The Colfax Public Library participated in the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program several years ago when a grant made the program available to Dunn County.
“It was a county-wide program spearheaded by Menomonie. They gave us the materials. We were limited to eight different types of books. But that was over five years ago,” Albricht explained.
“We have pretty much handed out all of the books from that first go-around,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“We’d like to keep doing it, and now we can get a fresh supply of books and start promoting it again,” she said.
The library has a binder with colored pages, and the different colored sheets represent an increment of one hundred books, Albricht said.
“Each child will get a folder and a book bag. Then they start keeping a reading log. We supply them with pages for each series of books that they read,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
The books are “recorded” on the sheets with a sticker or a checkmark, she said.
“Once they have completed a set of one hundred, they come back into the library. We have a chance to talk to them and hear about their progress. Then at that time, they can select a book for each set of readings,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for each family to get ten new books,” she said.
The children are not expected to be independent readers, and there is no minimum age requirement for “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.”
“If someone wants to start reading to their infant or one-year-old, that’s fine, that’s when it starts. And it goes until they are in kindergarten,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
Reading to kids helps them with their vocabulary and helps develop their attention span, she said.
“We think it encourages the grown-up/child bond too,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
The adults also are excited about the program because it allows them to start building their child’s collection of books for their home library, she said.
“One of the things I noticed is some of the children were reading by the time they were five,” Albricht said.
“We had one mom who had completed the books by the time (her son) was 18 months old. It was a record,” she said.
“Now she has a baby girl, and she wants to start again. She wants to be fair,” Albricht said.
With a new “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, the little girl will obtain a whole set of books different from her brother’s set, Albricht noted.
The “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program provides many positive benefits for patrons and for the Colfax Public Library.
“There are so many advantages to this kind of program. We like that it gets them coming to the library regularly. They need to read a lot of books to complete the program, so they are browsing our shelves. They are getting comfortable here,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“Then they start coming to Story Time. Then they’re involved in Summer Reading. And then they start bringing a friend,” Albricht said with a laugh.
“The goal is to have enough books for 45 kids. So that would be 450 books we’d have on hand. We’re planning on spending about $10 per book,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“They will be getting good quality books,” she said.
Bragg-Hurlburt said she had already been browsing through catalogs to find books for the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program
“You can find wonderful things. Board books. Different sets of books. They are going to get good books,” she said.
There are interactive books, too, that the children can touch, Albricht said.
“Jolene and I see the new books come in all of the time, and there’s a lot of really cool stuff available out there. That makes it fun for the parents, too, because then they have some variety,” Bragg-Hurlburt said.
“The Colfax kids are in for a treat!” she said.
Bragg-Hurlburt said she plans to start the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program at some point this fall.
“It takes a while to order the books and get what we need so we can get started,” she said.