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Library program encourages reading to toddlers

CINDY HILL READS a book with her 2-year-old daughter Madeline at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library recently. The Hills are participating in a new library program, “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” (Photo by Randy Roberts)

CINDY HILL READS a book with her 2-year-old daughter Madeline at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library recently. The Hills are participating in a new library program, “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” (Photo by Randy Roberts)

By MAX FILBY
STAFF WRITER

Reading 1,000 books to a child before kindergarten may seem like a lofty goal, but for 2-year-old Madeline Hill, the number may be more like 5,000.

“It sounds like a lot, but it’s not,” said Madeline’s mom, Cindy Hill of Findlay. “I just want her to have a passion for it.”

Hill and her daughter are participating in one of the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library’s newest programs, called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten,” that aims to jump-start reading skills for kids. Cindy Hill said her daughter insists on being read at least five children’s books a day.

“It’s so important, but we make it a fun thing, too,” Cindy Hill said.

The program is one the library borrowed after seeing it used elsewhere in Ohio.

The program encourages reading to children by posting the children’s pictures in the library and rewarding the children when they hit milestone numbers. Recently, Hill and her daughter were almost at 100 books.

“She knows as soon as she hits that, she gets to go in and get something,” Hill said.

Although small prizes may not be enough to convince some to read, it’s something the library staff believes can help boost kids’ reading skills.

“All we do is provide a little incentive for children and they’re much better prepared for school,” said Cindy Romick, director of children’s services at the library.

While the program focuses on prepping toddlers for kindergarten, Romick hopes it will also give a head start to children when it comes time for standardized testing in third grade.

Under Ohio’s “Third-Grade Reading Guarantee,” the state intervenes with students from kindergarten to third grade who are having trouble reading.

“With the third-grade guarantee, it’s very important now,” Romick said. “We’re hoping something like this can have a very profound impact on it.”

Although 1,000 books may seem like a lot, the library allows parents and children to reread books several times, as long as they’re reading.

“Some kids go through books like Kleenex,” Romick said. “It’s just one book a day for about three years.”
For Hill, a book titled “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and another called “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are ones she rereads to her daughter almost every day.

“It’s something I just want her to look forward to,” Hill said.

Although Madeline is only 2, Hill said she can already see the difference that reading to her every day has made. While Madeline won’t be in the third grade for another six years, her interest in reading is reassuring and something Hill hopes she retains as she grows.

“I can already see the difference,” Hill said. “Six months ago, she wouldn’t even sit through a paragraph, and now she sits through a whole book.”

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