PLDL holds ‘1,000 Books’ kickoff party

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Holly Nemiroff reads Anna McQuinn's “Lola at the Library” to Yanlin Fang, Ryan Fang, Laura Fiss, Sebastian Fiss and Lily Mercier at Storytime at the Portage Lake District Library Saturday. The library held its kickoff for the 1,000 Books program.

HOUGHTON — Portage Lake District Library is the latest library to join a nationwide program encouraging parents to read to their children early. 

The library held its launch party for the “1,000 Books Before Kindgergarten” program Saturday. Parents and caregivers can read 1,000 books with their children before the age of 5. 

When families sign up, they receive a portfolio with information about the program, a bookmark, coloring pages and a log sheet for the first 100 books, said library Director Dillon Geshel. When they return the sheet to the library they win a prize. 

As families reach larger milestones, such as 500 or 1,000 books, they receive bigger prizes, such as free books. 

About 20 people had signed up about an hour into the kickoff, Geshel said. 

“This is the first reading program we’ve done where it’s year-round, so we’re excited about that,” he said. 

Reading to children is a great way to bond with them, Geshel said. Studies have also shown links between early reading to infants and the childrens’ later academic achievement. 

“When you read to your kids when they’re infants and toddlers, they develop a love for reading, but it also sets them up to me more successful in school,” he said. 

Laura Fiss of Houghton joined the program with her son Sebastian, 3. She was reading “The Reluctant Dragon,” by Kenneth Graham, author of the “the Wind and the Willows.” The book also features illustrations by E.H. Shepard, known for his work on the “Winnie the Pooh” series. 

“I think anything that encourages reading and children reading is cool,” she said. “We already read a lot, but it’s nice to get involved, and it’s also nice to gamify it.”