Vanessa Van Houten believes in reading to her 21-month-old daughter Kyle Carroll. Times spent with books helps in bonding and stimulating the girl's interest in books, which will invaluable as she approaches kindergarten in a few short years.
Van Houten was the first parent to finish the Ceres Library's "Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" program. On Thursday she was brought her child to the library to pick up a medallion and a free book, a copy of "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.
The Ceres Library is the only branch in the county
library system that is offering the program. It encourages parents to read 1,000 books to their younger children by the time they reach school. The program will go on indefinitely.
"We signed up at the end of October and we finished May 5," said Vanessa, who is also enrolled in the summer reading program where 20 minutes of reading a day are the aim.
"When we very first started sometimes she didn't even listen to a book and if we didn't read the whole book we didn't count it. But by the end she would sit for like 10 books - the little cardboard books - before she was ready for something else."
Kyle now loves going to the library for books and the children's story times. She especially enjoys hearing rhyming books, such as "The Lady with the Alligator Purse."
A total of 143 parents signed up for the program last fall and at least 22 have read at least 100 books.
Michelle Coxford, the children's librarian in Ceres, is also participating and has read close to 400 books to son Owen.
"We're hoping that a program like this that you're going to get into the habit of reading to your children all the time, that it would just be intuitive, even after they start school," said Coxford. "I'm still reading to my
oldest boy; he's going into the fifth grade."
She said most studies show that reading to children before they start school lends to their success.
"It greatly increases their vocabulary," said Ceres Librarian Carol Blomquist. "When we talk we speak within perimeters and books often have language in them that we don't speak every day and kids pick up that language quickly. They pick up concepts."
Melissa and Jason Hoffman of Ceres started reading to daughter Lydia when she was 9 months old and she would first wander off. Now older and 280 books in the program, Lydia retrieves books for her parents to read.
"She'll see Daddy or I reading and she'll get her book and come over and sit down next to us and look at it and mimic us," said Melissa.
Coxford complimented Dr. Lynette Grandison for snagging a $500 grant from the Sutter Health Foundation to help support the program. The Friends of the Ceres Library also contributed as did the Persephone Guild.
Susan Lilly said the Stanislaus Library Foundation applied for a $1,000 grant from Omega Nu and $529 from the Scholar Share program.