A recent Forsyth County Public Library initiative has significantly boosted the number of first-graders with library cards.
The “My First Library Card” program asked first-grade teachers to register their classrooms for a card sign-up contest, which began in fall.
More than 1,500 students in 71 classrooms received information urging parents to bring their children to apply for a public library card.
The classroom with the highest percentage of students signing up will get a puppet show at their school, as will another class chosen at random. The contest ends Jan. 10.
Steve Kight, the library’s assistant director for public services, said in a statement that officials “wanted to encourage the habit of visiting the public library early in life.”
“The library card is the key to unlock information sources and reading enjoyment not only during the school years, but throughout life,” he said.
Since the fall, about 112 county first-graders in participating classrooms have either signed up for a card or shown library staff that they already have one, said Julie Ray, youth services specialist at the Hampton Park branch.
Ray, who has been tracking the results for the three library branches, said the system would see “about a tenth” of those sign-ups for children that age in a normal fall.
About half of the county’s first-grade classes have participated, Ray said. Of those, a Whitlow Elementary class has been leading the pack.
Ray said it takes about 10 minutes for a parent to apply and receive a library card for their first-grader.
“It’s a benefit to them just to be aware of the library and to really take ownership of that,” she said.
Parents will need to bring proof of county residency and a photo ID to sign up.
The library card allows free access to thousands of materials, both in the branches and on the Internet, she said.
Ray said a great reading resource for children that’s available online is TumbleBooks, where kids can read along with an animated story.
According to Vanessa Cowie, library youth services coordinator, children with access to many books are more likely to become avid readers.
“School holidays are the perfect time to come to the public library to expand knowledge and imagination,” she said.