Program aims to get babies talking

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A recent study, presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting, suggests children who use smartphones, tablets and electronic games before they begin to talk are at higher risk for delayed speech. That’s what Karen Yother, youth service coordinator for the Community Library Network, has been hearing from caregivers too.

“Our partners say they are noticing more children lagging behind their peers in babbling and using pretend words,” Yother said.

That’s why Yother is pleased to launch the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative at all eight libraries: Athol, Harrison, Hayden, Pinehurst, Post Falls, Rathdrum, Spirit Lake, and the Bookmobile.

The program incorporates what other studies have shown. The more words a child hears, the richer vocabulary they have when they begin school. Because reading consists of a more diverse set of words than parent-directed conversations, picture and story books help develop a child’s capacity for lifelong learning.

Reading toward the goal of 1,000 books comes with rewards. When signing up, the child poses for a picture and will get an updated photo for every 100-book milestone. A book of the child’s choice is given at the 500-book level, and upon reaching the 1,000-book milestone, kids will receive a reading buddy, certificate, and an exclusive invitation to the celebration party. Any book read to a child counts, even if it is the same book read multiple times, as well as attending a library story time. Reading one book a day between birth and the start of kindergarten nearly doubles the goal. And three books a day will meet the goal in less than one year.

Parents and caregivers can visit their closest library to receive a reading log or go to CommunityLibrary.Net/1000books and download an app to keep track of books. Information can also be found at any of the partner sites, Lakeland, Mountain States and Silver Valley Early Head Start; Opening Books, Opening Doors; United Way; and Coeur d’Alene, Lakeland, and Post Falls School Districts. The Friends of the Post Falls Library and Community Library Network and the Statewide Education Philanthropic Gift Fund are sponsoring the project.

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