Three Big Sky kids complete library program for preschoolers

By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor

Ada Kissell, Parker Samardich and Reed Loomis have each read 1,000 books, and they haven’t even celebrated a 5th birthday yet. These three children recently completed the Big Sky Community Library 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and on May 22 they received certificates and a book to honor their accomplishment. The program is an ongoing challenge to the parents of pre-kindergarten-aged children to read 1,000 books out loud to their kids by the time they enroll in kindergarten.

“It’s about getting the kids exposed to books, listening to words,” said Big Sky librarian Kathy House.

The Big Sky effort is a part of the national 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, which suggests that children need to hear 1000 stories before they begin to read on their own.

Assistant librarian Robbeye Samardich said reading out loud jump-starts word recognition and helps children learn the progression of a story. Samardich organizes the weekly story time session and is also the mother of Parker, who recently completed the challenge.

“Kids will read a book over and over … and they learn sequence, the beginning, middle and end of a story,” Samardich said.

According to House, there are 34 children participating in the reading challenge right now. Parents of newborns, infants and toddlers can sign up for the program at the Big Sky Community Library, which is located in the same building as Lone Peak High School.

Ada was the first child to complete the library challenge of reading 1,000 books before kindergarten age, a program where parents keep track of every story they read to their child. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE KISSELL

Parents will be given a reading log and are responsible for recording the name and author of each book they read to their child. Repeats are allowed, meaning a parent can read the same book multiple times and each reading counts toward the 1,000-book goal. For each completion of 100 books, the youngsters are given a celebratory sticker to place on a reading chart displayed on the library walls. Once a child has reached 1,000 books, the library holds a celebration party.

“The hardest part is remembering to write it down,” Samardich said. She and her 4 1/2-year-old daughter completed the challenge over the course of about one-and-a-half years.

“It’s not so daunting,” Samardich said. “If you read about three books a day for a year, you are just about there.”

Stephanie Kissell is the mother of 3-year-old Ada. “She read 1,000 books before she was 2 1/2,” Kissell said.

“I think literacy and language exposure is critical to the development of a child,” Kissell said. “Being in a program gets you in the routine to read. Now when we go down for bed at night there are always books read.”

Kissell and Samardich noted the development apparent in their childen’s reading logs.

“In the beginning we read so many texture books, books with only one word, and now we’re reading books with actual story lines,” Kissell said.

Children also go through topic interests and enjoy book series, all the more apparent when the books are written down and logged. According to the parents, popular books include John Nedwidek’s “Ducks Don’t Wear Socks,” the Amelia Bedilia series written by Peggy Parish and Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie books.

Parents can search the library’s 18,000-title collection by topic, and books are also labeled on the shelves based on reading level. Pre-school books are marked with green, and include many fiction stories, chapter books and non-fiction.

The library also offers what they call Lit Kits, rated for preschool, primary or intermediate reading levels. Each kit, which is organized into numerus themes that include careers, new siblings, the human body and farm animals, includes books and games. Additionally, parents have access to learning kits that are a part of the Morningstar Learning Center’s Basecamp to Kindergarten, which features approximately 30 different topics and themes.

Every Monday at 10:30 a.m. the Big Sky Community Library offers story time with Samardich, where parents are invited to attend with their children in order to spend time listening to stories, singing songs and doing a craft.

To learn more about the Big Sky Community Library and the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program visit bigskylibrary.org.