MCS gets grant for 1,000 Books program

By Julia Green
Margaretville Central School announced last week that it received a $4,000 matching grant from The A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation to implement an early childhood literacy program called The 1,000 Books Program in cooperation with Fairview Public Library in Margaretville and Skene Memorial Library in Fleischmanns. According to MCS Head Librarian Pat Moore, the hope is to have the program up and running this spring.
“Pat Moore wrote the grant, and we heard yesterday that we have received the grant,” said MCS Superintendent Tony Albanese last week. “This was something that was done in another school district,” he said, adding that part of the program is an attempt to join forces with the local public libraries.
Moore said that the program came to her attention when other BOCES schools were participating in it.
“I’d seen it, and it’s something that I had been interested in for a few years, since I’d heard of other districts doing it, and I thought, ‘That’s a good idea,’” she said. “I had applied for some grants previously and not gotten them, and then when Tony came he said, ‘Let’s go for it’ and gave me a little push to go for it. And we got it.”
With the grant, the Margaretville Central School Library, along with Fairview and Skene libraries, will acquire 1,000 children’s books, which will then be organized in 100 tote bags with 10 books per bag. The tote bags will be loaned one at a time to families in the community from MCS, Fairview and Skene, which will ensure access to the books year-round. The Margaretville Central School PTA will be involved in obtaining the tote bags in which to circulate the books.
The program, which focuses on early childhood literacy, is targeted at preschool and early elementary children living in the Margaretville Central School District. The goal of the program is to make it convenient, easy and free for parents to have access to 1,000 quality children’s books to read to their children.
“The target age range is about three to seven,” Moore said. “The idea is to have the 1,000 books read to the students by the time they become independent readers. Three to seven is the target range, but if someone wants to read to their two-year-old or continue reading to their eight-year-old, we’re certainly not going to turn anybody down.”
Families in the district who wish to participate in the program will be able to register at one of the three sites – Fairview, Skene or MCS – and will receive a card or sheet on which they can keep track of which bags they have already had. They will be able to pick up and trade bags at whichever of the three locations is the most convenient, and Moore said that among the decisions still being made are the process by which the books will be circulated among the three libraries.
“Those are kind of the details we have to work out: who’s going to keep which bags where, and how we’ll change them as needed,” she said.
Moore added that one of the main goals of the program in terms of its growth is the number of families that participate.
“I think our target would be to start off and get 20 or 25 families enrolled in the spring, and then expand by trying to get as many families enrolled as we can,” she said. “I think it’s important for families to have easy access to books without needing to purchase them themselves.
It’s important for them to have access to books to read to their children so their children can be successful readers when they enter school, and read independently.”
Echoing findings published in a report issued by the Commission on Reading and funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Moore said that the best thing parents can do to set their children up for success in school is to read to them.
“Reading to a child aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help your child succeed academically,” she added. “There are a lot of things, but if you can only pick one, reading to your kids is the one.”