Improving early childhood development one story at a time

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette The Portage Lake District Library’s shelves are filled with books of all shapes, sizes, and types. The library is a great place to get started should parents be interested in taking part in the 1,000 books before kindergarten initiative.

HOUGHTON — Speaking or reading aloud to infants has been linked to improved long-term performance and mental development. A concept Portage Lake District Library is turning into a new program. 

“Studies show reading with your children when they are infants and toddlers is the best indicator for their future educational achievements so it really comes down to being read to as a child,” said Library Director Dillon Geshel.

With that in mind, libraries across the United States have begun hosting the 1,000 books before kindergarten initiative. The program is year-round, self-paced and uses the library as a resource. Now Houghton’s local library is getting in on the action. Saturday marks the beginning of their own 1,000 books before kindergarten initiative at 11:15 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. 

“We have for many years, many decades, had story time events here that cater to toddlers… but what we haven’t had is a program that caters to infants,” said Geshel. He first saw the program at another Michigan library and thought to bring it back home. 

“Participants can come in to sign up and they’ll get their own 1,000 books folder that has all the materials they need to get started. From there it’s really a self-paced program, they have their own log sheets and every time they log a hundred books they can stop in for a prize and they get their next log sheet. So other than that it’s something self-paced that they can do on their own,” Geshel said.

So far, the library has seen a surge of interest in the new program and hopes it will be a success.