The San Diego Central Library. Photo by Navid Serrano via Wikimedia Commons

The city of San Diego library system Monday launched a literacy program designed to increase the number of books that parents and other caregivers read to young children.

Library patrons who want to participate in the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program can register online or at any city library location. Small rewards are offered when parents, caregivers and children hit milestones on the way to reading 1,000 books.

“Experiencing books at a very young age opens up so many opportunities for children — opportunities that pay off well into adulthood,” said Misty Jones, the city’s library director. “By adding the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten early literacy program at all 36 San Diego Public Library locations, we’re giving parents a clear path to follow to develop literacy skills in their children before they begin school.”

Library officials cited data from the National Education Association that says 26 percent of children who were read to three or four times a week by a family member recognized all the letters of the alphabet. The ability for a child to recognize the alphabet drops to 14 percent for children who were read to less frequently.

Additional research from the Educational Testing Service found that having more types of reading materials in a home results in students having higher reading proficiency.

Those who register for the program will receive a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten bookmark. Other milestone rewards will include a lanyard with a library card holder and a badge that will be updated with progress.

When 1,000 books are read, participants will receive a certificate of completion.

–City News Service