Library program promotes early literacy

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News Children gather under the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Tree at the Beloit Public Library on Wednesday as part of a dedication ceremony. The tree is not only a fun place, but is symbolic of a program to get children to read 1,000 books by kindergarten. Children who read 1,000 books get to add a leaf to the tree.

BELOIT - The Beloit Public Library celebrated several of its early literacy initiatives on Wednesday during a dedication ceremony for its 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Tree.

"We are really trying to focus on early literacy and give families the best opportunities to have access to free books and reading activities," said Marketing and Communications Coordinator Amy Mitchell.

"Having a foundation in reading will have a large impact on children's future education," and Head of Programming and Community Engagement Katharine Clark.

On Wednesday morning after story time, Clark shared information on the tree and the program and some new story time opportunities. Children sat on little "toad stool" chairs around the tree designed by Wisconsin artist Sally Duback to hear more about it.

Clark said the lighted tree was named in honor of the Growing Rock County Readers 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Tree to promote the life-changing early literacy program. Mitchell explained children who read 1,000 books as part of the program get to have a leaf hung from the tree in their honor.

Mitchell noted the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program has been underway for a few years and is part of the Arrowhead Library System Early Literacy. The addition of the tree, Mitchell said, will help promote the program.

Those who want to start in the program can register at the Rock County public library desk, via the 1,000 Books before Kindergarten County of Waukesha app or online at 1,000Books.org. Kids can receive a fun prize for every 100 books read.

Library staff said reading 1,000 books is easier than one might think. The average picture book, for example, takes about five minutes to read, meaning one can reach 1,000 books in one year by reading for just 15 minutes a day.

Beloit Public Library also has some new story-times to boost literacy. The new preK storytime with the School District of Beloit will be held Saturdays, from 10-11:30 a.m. on Nov. 9, Dec. 14, Jan. 18 and Feb. 1. School District of Beloit 4K staff will share stories and songs with families.

In December a new evening story time will be held the first Monday of the month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Families are encouraged to attend together. Pajamas are optional, with the event including stories, songs and a craft.

The library's ongoing literacy programs include the ABC Playgroup every Tuesday at 10 a.m. for kids ages 3 and 4; preschool story time Wednesdays at 10 a.m. for ages 6 and under; and baby play dates on the first and third Thursdays at 10 a.m. every Thursday beginning in December for babies 2 and younger.

As of September there was a new music and movement story time Mondays at 10 a.m. For more information visit beloitlibrary.org.

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