Friday, January 13, 2017

Raising a Bibliophile

Several months after moving to Virginia, I finally got around to getting a local library card.

Okay, to be fair, I got a card for the local city library months ago. Bug and I have hit story time there a few times, and it's a cute library with a decent set of books. But we hadn't made it to the county library yet. The closest branch is actually right across the street (almost literally), but it's currently closed for renovations (reopening next summer or autumn), and I didn't figure out that there's a temporary branch open a block away until just a few weeks ago. And since I did discover that, it's just been too cold to go.

I know. Whine, complain. I'm serious, though; it's been in the 20s and 30s lately, and most of the time we don't have a car during the day, and there's no way I'm walking even a few blocks when the temperature is at freezing or below.

So. Anyway. We finally got a library card to the county library a few days ago, and when we were there, we heard about a new program they just started called 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, which is exactly what it sounds like. The goal is to read kids 1000 books before they start kindergarten. They don't all have to be different books, and you don't have to track every individual title. Instead, the librarian gives you a series of coloring sheets, if you will, which each have a certain number of butterflies on them. Kid colors in a butterfly for each book, and once you fill in a sheet, you take it to the library for a reward. There are different milestones to aim for: 100 books, then 250, 500, 750, and finally 1000.

Almost done with this sheet!

Theoretically, you sign up for the program after first having read 25 books. Considering the amount Bug and I read every day, I just signed up same day, because we've obviously read way more books than that over the course of his life so far. Parents can sign up even their little babies, so I figured we're covered.

Once I explained the premise to Bug, he got very excited. Because: prizes. Actually he took it as a personal challenge of sorts (which is guess *is* technically the point).

The result? We read more than 75 books over the past three days. Bug claimed his first reward this morning.

It's a magnet!

And there's no slowdown in sight.

Bug has always been a big reader, just like his mama. He has an overstuffed bookshelf in his bedroom, plus there are always other books rotating in and out of the house: review books; library books; new arrivals from bookstores or book sales or Paperback Swap coming in, other books we weren't too thrilled with heading out.

While we lived in both San Diego and the Sacramento area we hit story times nearly every week. Bug has participated in the Summer Reading Program every summer he's been alive (again, because: prizes). When I request new review books from one of the outlets I write for, I almost always ask for a few picture books for his sake (and before too much longer, he'll be able to start reviewing books himself!). We frequently buy books from library book sales and I can't walk into a regular bookstore without picking up at least one new selection for him. Bug obviously can't actually read to himself yet, but he enjoys having even longer stories read to him, including ones meant for 2nd and 3rd graders. He's got a short attention span for most things, but he'll happily bring me book after book after book. We can read for hours on any given day.

So a challenge like this is really not pushing us to do anything new. We're already big fans of books. But it is bringing out Bug's competitive spirit, and it's giving us something specific to work for.

Just another way I'm working to raise a book lover, I suppose. Bug loves being active, playing board games, being wild outside, watching cartoons, and doing other normal almost-five-year-old things. But it's very important to me that he not only appreciates books, but that he love them. Books are amazing tools, and I dearly want my son to grow to love them the way I do. And programs like this are a fun way to motivate him to do something he already enjoys.

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