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    All Prince William Public Libraries are closed Wednesday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth.

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    Download our new app: search "Prince William Public Library" in the App Store or Google Play. READ MORE.

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    All Prince William Public Libraries are closed Wednesday, June 19, in observance of Juneteenth.

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    Download our new app: search "Prince William Public Library" in the App Store or Google Play. READ MORE.

Bonding Through Books: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and Story Times

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In a recent episode of "Important Library Stuff," host Emily Bickers talks with returning cohosts Amanda Thompson, Youth Services Librarian Supervisor at Central Library, and Rosanne North-Jack, Librarian Technician from Manassas City Library about Prince William Public Libraries’ 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program and engaging story times, both of which aim to foster early literacy skills in young children. Emily also interviews Cora, a recent 1,000 Books graduate, and Max, a current participant.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a popular program at Prince William Public Libraries that encourages reading from an early age and promotes caregiver-child bonding through books. Children track the books they read, earning small prizes at milestones and a free book and a plushie upon completion. Signing up is easy: visit pwcva.gov/library, use the Beanstack Tracker app, or sign up at any library branch. Rosanne emphasized that it’s never too early to start, sharing her personal experience of reading with her son Quinn since he was a baby.

Rosanne also shared tips on how to make reading part of her family’s daily routine. Wonderbooks, which combine audio and print, are a hit in her household. Parents can also read their own books to infants, listen to audiobooks and podcasts during road trips, and create stories together to build vocabulary and narrative skills.

Amanda and Rosanne shared how parents and caregivers can combine 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten and story times, offered at all 12 branches for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Amanda prepares several books, mixing lengths and engagement levels, incorporating songs and activities to maintain interest at story times at Central Library. Rosanne highlighted the importance of consistency, interaction, and engaging with children through questions and activities to enhance their experience.

Amanda shared one of her favorite story times memories. “One time, we were reading about a hedgehog, and I asked the kids, ‘Do you think he's going to fit in there?’ And this little guy just goes, ‘No.’ So I was like, all right. And then I turn the page and – this kid was probably like three – and he just goes, ‘Oh my God.’ Just so loud. Like this was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.”

Rosanne remembers a time when a mom came up to her and said her daughter likes to play librarian at home and pretend that she's Rosanne reading stories to her stuffed animals. “I honestly don't think there's a higher form of praise than that.”

Reading to babies and toddlers, even when they seem inattentive, is crucial. It strengthens their listening skills, introduces them to new words, and builds a foundation for future literacy. Prince William Public Libraries' programs like "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" and story times are designed to make this early literary journey enjoyable and rewarding for both children and caregivers.

Emily also took a few moments to talk to Cora, who completed the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and Max, who is about halfway through. Cora’s favorite part about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is reading itself, and Max loves that he’ll get to pick out a book to keep when he “graduates.”

For more information on these programs, visit pwcva.gov/library and check the Online Events Calendar for upcoming story times.

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