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New Greenfield literacy program encourages love of reading

  • Rachel Roberts, a member of Friends of the Greenfield Public Library, registers Kirsten Baringer and her 4-year-old son Dylan for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Sadie Miller, from left, reads children's books with 6-month-old Tuli Freeman, and Simon Caswell, 3, during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Parents and children observe an interactive play that was part of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. —Contributed photo/Paul Jablon

  • State Sen. Stan Rosenberg learns from Karen Larabee, president of the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library, about the library's new books and shelves during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. —Contributed photo/Paul Jablon

  • Sadie Miller, from left, reads children's books with 6-month-old Tuli Freeman during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • One-year-old Killian Terounzo laughs at the puppet, "Mrs. Perky Bird" from Mother Goose on the Loose with children's librarian Kay Lyons during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Children's librarian Kay Lyons tells stories with the puppet, "Mrs. Perky Bird" from Mother Goose on the Loose during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Children's librarian Kay Lyons reads a story book during the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten kickoff party at the Greenfield Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



Recorder Staff
Saturday, February 10, 2018

GREENFIELD — Toddlers on wobbly legs sipped juice boxes and snacked on colorful cupcakes, crumbs gathering on their lips as they watched youth librarian Kay Lyons with fixed eyes.

After engaging children with song and hand puppets, Lyons took to sharing stories. Though a regular occurrence at the Greenfield Public Library, on Saturday her “Mother Goose on the Loose” story hour was a feature of a kickoff party for the library’s new literacy program called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Though the program is designed to increase the number of books that parents and other caregivers read to young children, Friends of the Greenfield Public Library member Ellen Berson said the main focus is less about reaching 1,000 books.

“It’s about enjoying reading,” she said. “It’s celebrating reading as a community. It’s getting them to build that lifelong love.”

Any child up to kindergarten age may participate in the year-round program. Families have the option of tracking their reading via an app for iPhone or Android, or a paper packet.

After an introduction by state Sen. Stan Rosenberg, dozens of children crowded around local artist and author Astrid Sheckels for an interactive reading of her book, “Hector Fox and the Giant Quest.” Surrounded by animal mask-wearing adults, who acted out their parts, and her own paintings of animals, Sheckels told the tale of Hector Fox and his friends looking for “a giant, a hero or a friend,” who the group found in the form of a bear.

“I really like interacting with my target audience,” said Sheckels. “It’s exciting to see them not only reading, but enjoying my books.”

According to Lyons, reading or being read to is important during a child’s early development. Not only are children developing an affinity for reading and better reading skills, but they are becoming more knowledgeable, recognizing tones of voices, the alphabet and even colors more easily.

Parents who filled the library’s downstairs rooms with their toddlers Saturday emphasized their interest in instilling children with a love for reading.

“My husband and I are big readers, and I’m (an English) teacher so I know it’s important to get kids reading as early as possible,” said Rebecca Twaites, of Greenfield, who herself had to read before she was allowed to watch TV as a child.

Twaites attended the kickoff with her 17-month-old daughter Charlotte Kendall, her friend Jamie Taylor, of Conway, and Taylor’s 18-month-old daughter Collette. Reading is a big part of both girls’ lives, as Twaites reads to Charlotte every night, and both girls have three or four books read to them each day at daycare.

“It’s a cheap and easy way to get kids to read,” Greenfield resident Kristen Valle, who brought her 1½-year-old daughter Vivian to the kickoff party, said of 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Plus, Valle added, having a program like 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten will keep children visiting the library, something she always encourages.

“I tell my students, “If you need something to do over the weekend, go to the library,’” she said.

About 50 families signed up for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, which Berson said will hold a celebration of reading progress once a season, the next likely in May. In the meantime, children and their parents can go ahead and get reading.

Though the kickoff has concluded, families can still sign up for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten with Lyons, and receive a book bag with the materials to track their progress.

Saturday’s event was dedicated to Janice Bohonowicz, who died in September of 2016, and Bruce Bohonowicz, of Greenfield, Janice’s husband, who died this past week in a snowmobile accident. The Janice Bohonowicz Memorial Fund benefited the library and its 1,000 Books program, paying for new bookshelves and books for children to read.