By Beth Cackowski

Early childhood literacy has always been at the forefront of the mission of public libraries. We do a lot to foster that goal with educational programming, storytimes and collection building. Lately programs aimed specifically at preparing children for Kindergarten have been popping up everywhere, aiding library efforts.

One statewide early literacy initiative, Cruise into Kindergarten, was launched in 2013 by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.  This program supports school readiness and the PA Pre-K standards for literacy, math, and science. It encourages early exposure to books with a little educational screen time thrown in by way of an interactive game that helps children move forward.

Many PA libraries are participating in a similar program, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. This national program was developed to strengthen early literacy goals through reading aloud. The goal is to have 1,000 books read aloud to a child (including repeat titles and books read to them at storytime) before they start kindergarten.  Both Cruise into Kindergarten and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten focus on the importance of adults reading aloud to children at a young age. At the Cheltenham Township Library System, we are getting ready to launch our own 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program next month and are very excited to see where it takes us.

Don’t forget about long standing programs such as PA One Book Every Young Child that focuses on children ages 3 to 6, which is celebrating its tenth year!  The mission of all three of these programs is to promote the value and benefits of reading to preschoolers and to encourage family bonding through books and reading.

Are you participating in one of these state or national programs or doing something else fun to promote basic literacy in your library? Don’t forget to add your successful programs to the PA Forward Best Practices Database by completing the PA Forward Best Practices Short Form.