Ionia Community Library Relaunches Early Years Reading Program

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IONIA – An Ionia Community Library program aimed at increasing children’s early literacy rates is getting an upgrade.

The ICL is relaunching its “1,000 books before kindergarten” reading program. Mike Golczynski, youth services librarian at ICL, hopes more children will be enrolled after some changes to the program, which began in 2015.

“We agreed it needed a refresh,” Golczynski said. “We needed more options.”

The challenge is to have a child read 1,000 times from birth until they reach kindergarten. Golczynski said children can continue the program through kindergarten, but must be registered before starting.

Families have two options to participate – either through ICL’s Beanstack app or through a paper option which can be requested from the library. After a child has read 100 books, he can receive a small prize from a treasure chest at ICL and he receives his second reading diary for the next set of 100 books. If the child reaches 1,000 pounds before graduating from kindergarten, they receive a certificate, a free book and their photo is submitted to local media for recognition.

There have been 250 children who have enrolled in the program since its inception in 2015, Golczynski said. However, barely twenty children have completed the program. Golczynski also said most attendees were library users and some people might be intimidated to have to read 1,000 books.

Golczynski said everything counts as reading, including reading ingredients on cans at the grocery store or road signs in the car. The same book can be read over and over again.

“Anyone can read anything to any child at any time and each of those items counts towards the total of 1,000,” Golczynski said.

Golczynski added that the ICL hopes more people will take part in the program, saying the benefits of reading at an early age are lifelong.

“We hope that by making it more accessible by reminding parents that anything read to the child at any time by anyone matters, they will see that it is easier than it looks and that more people who are not regular library users will become regular library users,” he said. “We always want to invite young children to the library so that they start to like the reading and learning from an early age.This is how you can make good readers in school and as they grow.

“It’s a great way to spend some quiet time with your kids when they’re young and develop a love for books, stories, and learning before they enter kindergarten.”

ICL’s 2022 Adult Winter Reading Challenge, “10 to Try,” runs from January 17 through March 25. Customers will try to read 10 books from 10 different categories. Those who complete the challenge by March 25 receive a campfire mug and are entered into the grand prize draw.

The library can be reached at 616-527-3680.

— Contact journalist Evan Sasiela at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SalsaEvan.

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