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Thalia Rutherford loves, loves, loves going to the Glacier County Library and “reading” books, playing with the educational toys and enjoys meeting new friends. The library recently added a new program, “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.” The program is free and open to all pre-Kindergarten children. Stop by the Cut Bank or Browning branch libraries for details!

The concept is simple, the rewards are priceless. Reading with a child, no matter how old they are, has a lasting impact. Not only does it provide an opportunity for bonding, but it also teaches them skills they will use for the rest of their life. Reading aloud with your child improves their focus and concentration, expands their vocabulary, develops their imagination, teaches them about the world around them, and shows them the value of books and reading. However, studies show that one in five children have difficulties learning to read. Reading is an early indicator of academic success and for the first five to six years of a child’s life, parents and caregivers are responsible for providing early education. Reading aloud is an easy way to get your child started on the path to success.

The Glacier County Libraries strive to promote literacy from an early age, holding a weekly storytime and annual Summer Reading program, and is now bringing the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program to Cut Bank, Browning and the surrounding area. The program is free to participate in and any child who has yet to enter kindergarten is welcome to take on the challenge. 

“Part of our mission at Glacier County Libraries is instilling the lifelong love of reading in young children,” Glacier County Library Director Jamie Greco stated, “and we want to reinforce and support the parents’ role as their child’s first and best teachers. We are excited to provide this program as a way to accomplish this goal.”

It might sound a little daunting to read 1,000 books with your child, but it’s very doable! If you read one book a night, you will read 365 books in a year. That means in under three years, you will be able to complete the whole challenge! Start with your children early, and you will be sure to complete the program before they enter kindergarten. But for those who have children already nearing kindergarten, don’t worry – 1,000 books is still an achievable goal, especially because you can read the same book over and over and count it every time! You can also count books that anyone reads to your child, such as siblings, grandma or grandpa, babysitters, or even the books they hear each week at the library story hour. 

Greco emphasized, “Remember, there is no begin or end date for this program. We don’t want to add extra pressure to already busy parents, just read with your child and ENJOY!”

The library wants to help your child celebrate their milestones, and has several incentives to encourage their reading progress. For every 100 books read, the child will receive a milestone sticker. At 250 books, they will receive a finger puppet. Once they’ve finished 500 books, they’ll receive a medal to commemorate the halfway point. At 750 books, they receive a special reading ducky. Read 1,000 books and receive a stuffed animal and a certificate of achievement! 

If you’re looking for a place to start, stop by the library to get some recommendations or join them for their weekly Wednesday morning storytime at 10:30 a.m. You can also pick up a checklist of “books your child should hear before kindergarten” at the library to give you some ideas of new and classic children’s books to read with your little ones. 

Reading logs are available at the library in Cut Bank or Browning to keep track of your progress, you can keep track in your own notebook or journal, or you can download the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten app to easily record each book you read with your child.

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