CUMMING — Get ready to bring some extra-large dog treats to the library this week because Clifford the Big Red Dog will be visiting Forsyth County.
The main character of the long-running book and television series will appear at least once at all four branches of the Forsyth County Public Library throughout the week.
The visit will kick off 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, an early literacy program to help infants, toddlers and preschoolers develop the pre-reading skills they need to succeed in school.
The first “1,000 Books with Clifford” event is set for 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Cumming Library.
On Wednesday, Clifford will come to the Sharon Forks Library at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., before going to the Hampton Park Library at 6:30 p.m.
Clifford will then visit the Post Road Library at 11:15 a.m. Thursday and Saturday, Aug. 29.
All of the events are free and intended for families with children younger than 5 who want to hear stories and look at photos. No registration is required.
The libraries will also be raffling off family four-packs to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta at each program. All families who attend are encouraged to enter the raffle.
“Clifford is coming … because he is a family character to many young readers,” said Laura Bradley, program manager for the library system. “Having a character they know and love is important to spark their interest in books and building their early literacy skills.”
A significant number of students are entering kindergarten without the skills required to becoming independent readers, according to research cited by the Georgia Public Library Service. Children who have trouble reading are more likely to have trouble learning other skills and concepts.
“One of the easiest ways to help a child build their vocabulary and pre-reading skills is to read aloud,” Bradley said. “At first, reading 1,000 books may seem like an unreachable goal. But if you read just one book at bedtime every night, then you can read 1,000 books in less than three years.
“Most board and picture books take only about five minutes to read aloud. If you commit to reading just 15 minutes a day, you can finish over 1,000 books in just one year.”
Families are encouraged to keep track of their progress with a free reading log that can be found on the library’s website at forsythpl.org.
All stories and books count, even those read to the child at someone else’s house or books read more than once.
As a child reaches various milestones in the program, he or she can visit a library branch for a commemorative photo.
The library is also providing tips and information on early literacy on the “Bookmarked Blog,” which also can be found through the main website, and will be holding special storytimes to complement the program throughout the year.
For more information about the upcoming Clifford events or the early literacy program, visit forsythpl.org.