Lee County Library System expands Early Literacy offerings for families

Children’s Books at a library. Credit Lydia Liu via Flickr https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Lee County Library System has enhanced its early literacy services with the redesign and relaunch of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program and the addition of a website section specifically for families with young children.

These efforts come as educators nationwide look for opportunities to reach young children before they enter kindergarten. The additional library services complement the library system’s diverse collection of books and resources for young children while providing support to parents and caregivers as they navigate their child’s first years.

“The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is more than a reading log,” said Amy-Jane McWilliam, Youth Services Coordinator. “As a parent tracks the books they read with their child, they also learn about the five early literacy practices of reading, writing, singing, playing and talking and the significance these practices have in their child’s start to school.”

The website for Early Literacy programs for children up to age 5, is www.leelibrary.net/prek or parents may visit any Lee County Library System location. Families with children up to age 5 who have not started kindergarten can participate. The program is flexible and self-paced.

The program provides examples of simple family activities to encourage the development of pre-reading and writing skills. As children progress through the 1,000 Books program, they will receive rewards like stickers, books, musical instruments and bubble wands.

The program can be the beginning of a life-long relationship with the library, Library Director Mindi Simon said.

“The library’s long-range plan includes becoming a part of daily life in Lee County,” she said. “This starts by pairing with parents in the early days of their child’s growth and development to create a relationship that will continue through all stages of life.”

It takes just a minute to get set up and every child that registers receives a free book and sticker. Tracking a child’s reading can be done online through READsquared, using the paper tracking sheet or both. The program is offered in English, Spanish and Haitian-Creole.

The website also highlights themed book lists, free digital learning tools for preschoolers like Miss Humblebee’s Academy and World Book Early Learning and information about a weekly prerecorded storytime available on YouTube called Storytime Anytime!

The Lee County Library System, founded in 1964, has 13 branches to serve Lee County residents. For more information about other library services and programs offered, visit .leelibrary.net.

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