Tiny grads honored for reading 1,000 books before kindergarten

Graduating with honors Sunday for having reached the goal of reading 1,000 books before kindergarten were, from left, brothers Noah Kezar and Nicholas Kezar, exceedingly joyful Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy, Brynn Menke, Judah Kurtinitis and Joel Kurtinitis, order keeper.

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Considering that one-quarter of all Americans reads zero books from one year’s end to the next, according to research, then reading reading 1,000 books before even starting kindergarten is no mean feat.

And that is why the Perry Public Library honored four graduates Sunday afternoon from its 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program.

After introductory remarks by Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy, Children’s Librarian Suzanne Kestel, who directs the early reading program, delivered a ceremonial book reading of “1000 Books Before Kindergarten: A Promise and a Pledge,” written by Mark Borghese and Charlie H. Luh  and illustrated by Izzy Bean. Kestel read:

I will read you a thousand books
About witches and goblins and gnomes,
About green-eyed fairies with magical berries
And children just trying to get home.

The reading was followed by a presentation of diplomas and gift bags — really, book bags — to the young readers. Graduating with honors Sunday brothers Noah Kezar and Nicholas Kezar, sons of Jimmy and Ericka Kezar of Perry, Brynn Menke, daughter of Ned and Meg Menke of Perry, and Judah Kurtinitis, son of Joel and Kelsey Kurtinitis of Perry.

The 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program started in Nevada, Kestel said, as a way to spur public interest in reading and the importance of reading aloud to infants and toddlers. Kestel noted that early proficiency in reading is the most accurate predictor of overall school performance.

Murphy said this was the second year for the 1,000 Books program and the first time the library has held a graduation ceremony. She said it will become an annual event as the program continues to grow.


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