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West Fargo library program aims to improve early childhood literacy

Ready to Read Program available to those in library's service area as well as local daycares

Sarah Davis Children's Services Librarian Reading to kids at Ready to Read Storytime (1).jpg
The Ready to Read Program offers free resources to families in West Fargo and beyond to encourage early literacy at home, before children enter Kindergarten.
Photo courtesy of the West Fargo Public Library
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Many of us have heard how important reading is for children even before they can speak or hold a book. Their first several years of life are a critical part of their development where being read to, seeing words, singing and talking can have some big impacts on reading and other literacy skills.

But in 2020, nearly half of the children entering Kindergarten in West Fargo were behind in these skills. The West Fargo Public Library is striving to provide education, resources and opportunities parents and providers can use to help all kids get a successful start in school.

“During the first few years of a child’s life, they are growing and learning rapidly,” said Ellen Rossow, West Fargo Public Library communications specialist. “So, reading with your child, even your newborn, is a great, valuable thing! Education definitely starts at home, well before a child heads to Kindergarten.”

There may be a number of reasons kids don’t get the practice they need in these skills before going to school. They may not have a collection of books at home or their parents didn’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to practice these skills with them. That’s where the Ready to Read program comes in.

The program offers free resources to families in West Fargo and beyond to help them practice these important skills with their children through reading, writing, talking, singing and playing.

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Ready to Read offers multiple activities and resources, including a 1,000-Books Before Kindergarten challenge. Each child receives a free book to start building their collection and a guide where they can track their progress, which is also filled with tips and tricks for grown-ups. The reading challenge encourages kids to read with fun and educational prizes offered at certain milestones. Families can sign up and receive their kit at the service desk at the West Fargo Public Library or register online at westfargolibrary.org/beanstack and then visit the library to pick up their kit.

“A thousand books may sound like a lot, but this is a common goal and is easily attainable,” said Sarah Davis, Children’s Services librarian. “If you read a bedtime story each night, that’s 365 books a year and that’s also as many as 78,000 words that the child has been exposed to.”

Babies socializing at Baby Boost Storytime (1).jpeg
Research has shown that when mothers frequently talked to their babies, those children learned almost 300 more words by age 2 than peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them.
Photo courtesy of the West Fargo Public Library

Parents and their kids can also join the library’s storytime sessions each week. The sessions give children the opportunity to read, play, create, socialize and practice important early literacy skills.

The Ready to Read program also visits daycares in the area with book deliveries and special storytime events. Its Little Red Reading Bus, which brings books and activities directly out to the communities, also visits area neighborhood parks during the summer.

“We really are trying to do two big things with our Ready to Read programming,” Davis said. “We want to help set kids up for success by ensuring they get the early literacy practice they need before they head to Kindergarten. We also want to empower grown-ups to help their kids get that important practice at home.”

Empowering kids along with parents is a key part of the program and also why the library offers pre-K kids their very own My First Library Card. The card helps kids take ownership of their library experience and gets them excited about check out their own books.

The Ready to Read program is not only for West Fargo residents but also the library’s service area. This includes all of the West Fargo School District, which goes well beyond the city boundary, to include parts of Fargo, Horace, and Harwood.

To learn more about the WF Public Library’s Ready to Read program as well as other resources and events visit westfargolibrary.org or connect with the library on Facebook and Instagram @WestFargoLibrary or @thelittleredreadingbus. Parents can also sign up to receive email alerts about Little Red Reading Bus events at https://bit.ly/WFLibraryEmails .

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Example of Little Red Reading Bus route stop in Horace (1).jpg
The West Fargo library’s Little Red Reading Bus will begin making stops in the metro this summer.
Photo courtesy of the West Fargo Public Library

UPCOMING EVENTS

Storytimes

  • Ready to Read Storytime (Ages 3-5): Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m.
  • Baby Boost Storytime (Ages 0-2) Fridays at 10:30 a.m.

Summer Boost 

The WF Public Libarary’s summer reading program started June 1 and includes summer reading challenges with prizes for all ages (even adults), tons of summer events and the Little Red Reading Bus route. Kids of Ready to Read age (0 to 5) will have a special modified challenge that incorporates the elements of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Little Red Reading Bus Stops:

  • Mondays 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Meadowlark Park
  • Mondays 7 – 8 p.m. at Dakota Park
  • Tuesdays 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Village West Park
  • Tuesdays 7 – 8 p.m. at Tintes Park
  • Wednesdays 9 – 10 a.m. at Goldenwood Park
  • Wednesdays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Maplewood Park
  • Thursdays 9 – 10 a.m. at Rendezvous Park
  • Thursdays 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at Shadow Wood Park

Do you run a daycare? Partner with the WF Public Library to offer Ready to Read services to your children. Visit www.westfargolibrary.org/daycares to learn more.

Related Topics: ON THE MINDS OF MOMS
Melissa Davidson is a mom to three girls and writer for Click Content Studios, a marketing and video production agency. In addition to writing, she’s passionate about health and wellness, wishes she could get through all the non-fiction books out there, and thrives on learning new things, like the cello!
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