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Library grants support early childhood literacy efforts

Published On: Oct 06 2013 12:49:41 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 06 2013 02:32:39 PM CDT
stack of books

Libraries throughout the state received $250 grants in late summer to support early literacy projects that encourage young children to read, according to a release.

The mini-grants given to 40 small and mid-sized libraries are part of a new Growing Wisconsin Readers initiative coordinated by the Department of Public Instruction’s Public Library Development Team, according to the release. The grants are being used to develop an early literacy activity or launch a “1,000 Books before Kindergarten” reading program.

Libraries are using grant funds to develop activity areas to encourage interactions between young children and caregivers, officials said.

“Reading is such a crucial skill for success in life,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said in the release. “Research tells us that the period from birth to kindergarten is pivotal to early literacy and language development. These grants are helping libraries expand resources to fill early literacy needs.”

Some libraries are using the grant to create word walls with magnetic letters, according to the release. Other libraries are providing imaginative play areas, like a pretend store, to expand vocabulary.

Families and childcare providers who participate in “1,000 Books before Kindergarten” programs receive support for incremental reading goals, officials said.

“Public libraries have long been seen as a place of learning and discovery for all ages, particularly young children” Evers said. “Youth services librarians have served as leaders in the field of early literacy for decades, and recently this role has expanded in response to research about early childhood development and interventions. I commend them for their service to children and their families.”

The Growing Wisconsin Readers initiative is supported by Library Services and Technology Act funds awarded to DPI by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to the release. The initiative’s goals are to provide resources to caregivers, which include parents, grandparents, guardians and childcare providers, about how to read effectively with babies, toddlers and young children. The secondary goal is to showcase ways in which public libraries support early literacy in communities throughout Wisconsin.

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