SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 11/9/2017 5:25 p.m.:
For the second year in a row, the Salinas Public Library is trying to give every kindergartner in the city a library card. They hope to instill a love of reading in a child’s life and improve literacy rates across the city.
First thing on Sunday morning, the kindergartners of Los Padres Elementary School in Salinas got library cards. For most, it was their first one ever.
After a small tour, the feeding frenzy began, as the students were hungry for books. The books were separated by age group and language.
"I think it's a good opportunity for them to have better access to books and the ability to pick them in either Spanish or English," Isabel Martinez said.
Educators hope these kids will always be excited about reading.
"We know very well that looking at third grade reading skills in Salinas, test scores are not great,” said Cary Ann Siegfried, director of libraries and community services. “It's a challenge to have kids reading at grade level by the time they're in third grade. We also know that's a really key point in time, if they're not reading at grade level at third grade, the chances of them going on and being successful in school are not really great."
According to the Monterey County Health Department, only about a third of third-graders are reading at grade level. It also said about half of parents with children entering kindergarten read or show picture books to their kids daily. Access to libraries can be difficult for some, with only three libraries throughout the city.
Televisions, tablets and smartphones also put up some steep competition. According to Common Sense Media, kids spent an average of two hours and 19 minutes in front of a screen daily.
That’s why it’s important for parents to get creative.
"If you just say, ‘Sit here and read this book,’ the kid may not be all that excited about it,” Siegfried said. “But if it's ‘Sit here on my lap, next to me and let's read this book together and let's talk about it,’ then I think that's great competition for those electronic devices."
Library staff hope to bring the bus to each school once a month. They believe the program is successful. They’ve had 1,300 library card applications this year, compared to about 300 last year.
For the second year in a row, the Salinas Public Library is launching a kindergartner library card campaign aimed at giving every kindergartner in Salinas a library card.
Starting this week, library staff will begin delivering library cards to kindergartners at each of the three elementary school districts.
The first kindergarten event to deliver the new library cards will be November 9th, at 10:00 a.m. at Los Padres Elementary School. Accompanied by the bookmobile, the Library Director and staff will deliver the cards.
The goal of the Kindergarten Library Card Campaign is to instill a love of reading early in a child's life and increase literacy rates throughout the city. The Salinas Public Library says they have many resources, software programs, and online tools designed to help children learn how to read. There are also programs for adults including citizenship, computer, GED, and ESL classes.