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Ready, Set, Read! Initiative Focuses on Early Literacy

Stephanie Edwards with reading kit

Because early literacy skills are critical for lifelong learning and success, the library has launched an initiative to teach Champaign parents and caregivers how to develop those skills in their children, from birth to age five. Called Ready, Set, Read, the program has two primary components: reading packets for Champaign parents and free preschool events at the library.

Throughout the spring of 2013, library staff will be meeting parents and giving out reading packets at Head Start and the Champaign Early Childhood Center. Presented in a reusable tote, each packet includes a brochure of simple activities to build reading and language skills, grouped into five categories:

  • reading
  • talking
  • singing
  • writing
  • playing

A translated version is provided to Spanish-speaking families.

A book and other items in the packet are intended to encourage hands-on learning: finger puppets, a writing pad, crayons, and alphabet flash cards. The library’s own CD of children’s songs, What I Like! will give parents catchy tunes to sing with their children.

To encourage families to visit the library and get library cards, the packet includes coupons for free rental items. A coupon for the FriendShop, the library’s bookstore, will enable each family to take home 10 children’s books free of charge.

Free weekly preschool events have long been staples of the library’s educational efforts. They’ve been renamed to reflect the Ready, Set, Read! theme and revised to target more specific age ranges. The events give parents the option of daytime or evening meeting times and are offered at both the Main Library and Douglass Branch.

Packet distribution has been made possible by private gifts to the Champaign Public Library Foundation, including a grant from Target. The reading activities in the packets were adapted from Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library, a program of the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children, divisions of the American Library Association.

Pictured: Library Children's Services Manager Stephanie Edwards displays a Ready, Set, Read! packet.