"Library cards for little ones" by: Jessica Russell

Photo courtesy of Jessica Russell
Mayne Russell, 21 months old, is held by his mother Jessica Russell as he reaches for a library card from Bay City Public Library Director Samantha Denbow.

   At one year, one month, and 21 days old, Mayne Russell is one of the youngest Bay City resident to acquire a Bay City Public Library Card.  
   You can tell from the picture he’s already in love with the imaginative adventure books provided to readers of all ages. 
   In a progressive move to entice readers of all ages, the Bay City Public Library recently lifted the age requirement for library card holders so that children of any age may become members and participate in the many programs they offer.  
   The previous age to apply for a library card was 5 years old.  
   “In 2018 we began the process of transforming our library to become more family friendly,” shared Samantha Denbow, Library Director. “After training at the Family Place Institute in Centereach, New York, we realized that the most basic library principle of getting a library card was a hindrance to everything we were working towards.  
   So, we presented the change to City Council in an overhaul of the Library policies, and it was unanimously approved.” 
   Mayne’s interest in library membership was founded by the “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” program, a nationwide reading challenge.  
   Andrea Savage, the Library’s Youth Services Specialist, explained that the program is quite simple, but the rewards are priceless.  
   “The goal is to read 1,000 books to your little one before they start kindergarten - it’s not as hard as one may think, and you may repeat books. If you read one book a day to your child you will have read 365 books in one year, 730 books by year two, and 1,095 by the time your child is 3.  
   Most children start kindergarten at age 5, so you’ve got plenty of time to show your child the joy books can bring,” she said. 
   To incentivize your child, and to give the parents a pick-me-up, the library offers prizes for each 100 books logged along with the opportunity to showcase your child’s achievement on the Library’s Facebook page.  
   Once the goal of 1,000 books is accomplished, your child’s name will be put on a plaque inside of a library book and their picture added to the “I Read 1,000 Books” wall to celebrate their achievement. 
   “Studies show that reading with your child provides an opportunity for bonding, stimulates the imagination and encourages brain development,” said Denbow.  
   “At just a few months of age a baby can look at pictures and loves to listen to your voice.” 
   To participate in this program, or one of the many other opportunities offered by the library, visit 1100 7th Street, call 979-245-6931, or visit http://www.cityofbaycity.org/departments/public-library. 

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