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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Public Library has received another grant from the 3M Company for the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program.
Beverly Bernier, representing 3M in Menomonie before her retirement as a human resources manager on June 1, along with Ashley Zwier, Bernier’s replacement at 3M, and Alicia Thalacker, an HR Coordinator at 3M in Menomonie, presented a “big check” to Lisa Bragg-Hurlburt, director of the Colfax Public Library, and Jolene Albricht, youth services librarian, on Thursday, May 30.
The 3M Company awarded the Colfax Public Library $5,000 for the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program last August.
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.
Now the program, with the help of 3M, “is all our own program,” Hurlburt said.
Bernier noted she has brought her grandchildren to the Colfax Public Library for various programs and parties, and they love coming to the Colfax library.
In the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, parents sign up their young children, and then they check out books from the library to read with their kids. For every 100 books they read, the child is able to pick out a book from a selection of books purchased with the grant funding from 3M Company to keep as their very own book in their library at home.
When children are signed up in the program, each child receives a book bag and a folder to keep a reading log. The books are “recorded” on the reading log sheets with a sticker or a checkmark.
The children are not expected to be independent readers, and there is no minimum age requirement for “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.”
As of May 30, there were 57 children enrolled in the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, Hurlburt said.
Two children have completed the program so far, she said.
And one, a four-year-old, already knows how to read, Hurlburt added.
“Her teacher was amazed,” Albricht said. “She attributes it to reading all of these books together all the time.”
“A thousand books is quite an accomplishment. It helps the children with their literacy, and it helps facilitate the bond between the grownup doing the reading and the child. It gets them acquainted with the library, and it helps keep the library going because they check out lots of books to complete the program,” Hurlburt said.
“They are very nice books they get to keep. They choose which one they want from our selection. With the continuation of this program we will be able to have a wider selection,” she said.
“I think that will be a benefit for a sibling. Mom can say, ‘oh, we already have that book, but now they have some new ones.’ So when a little brother or a little sister is enrolled in the program, they can have some different choices,” Albricht said.
“Their library can be a little more varied. We have a lot of young moms having new babies that already have a sibling in the program,” she said.
“We started our own independent program with help from 3M in September of 2018,” Hurlburt said.
So far, the program has given away 140 books, Albricht and Hurlburt noted.
All of the copies of one particular book have already been given away.
“The novelty books seem to have gone first, which would make sense. Parents are starting out their children at a young age, so they would want the board books first,” Hurlburt said.
“The enthusiasm is great,” Albricht said.
“They can work at their own pace, and there is no rush. We are going to try to sustain this program for years into the future,” Hurlburt said.
“This program has been like the cherry on the ice cream sundae. The mothers are so excited, and grandmas get excited — and even some grandpas get excited,” Albricht said.
“Even dads. I signed up a little girl who is always with her dad. And you know what? It shouldn’t always be the mothers. He hadn’t even had a library card in a while, so he got a card. Then he’s checking out books for his little girl,” Albricht said.
“It’s a neat gateway into the library. A lot of times, it’s a way for people to rediscover the library. They have little ones, and they start coming in again. And then they start noticing things they are interested in as well,” Hurlburt said.
“The dad was checking out books about gardening, and I thought, ‘Go, Dad!’” Albricht said.
Some of the book titles in the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program include, “Big and Little,” “Hello Baby,” and “That’s Not My Puppy.”
“Some of the popular ones are ‘Go Away Big Green Monster,’ and the ‘Muddle and Match’ book is popular, too” Hurlburt said.
“They can turn the pages and make a monster,” Albricht said.
One book has a removable Band-aid that children can put on the “owies” in the book called “All Better,” Hurlburt said.
There was only one copy left of “All Better,” Hurlburt and Albricht said.
Initially, the books with a little “gimmick,” with textures inside and that are able to be manipulated in some way, are quite popular with little readers, Hurlburt said.
“We try to choose books, too, that engage the parents. ‘Llama, Llama Red Pajama’ — that’s just fun to say,” Hurlburt said.
“Or books that are reassuring with good messages — ‘Good People Everywhere.’ Books like that to comfort and inspire,” she said.
“One of the books, ‘Secrets of the Vegetable Garden,’ is a flashlight book. You hold the flashlight behind the page, and it will show you hidden details. Technology for kids has really gotten good,” Hurlburt said.
Hurlburt and Albricht said they are looking forward to picking out more books for the program.
“That’s really one of the fun parts — shopping for the books,” Hurlburt said.