DeKalb to start issuing new library cards to babies this month

They might have to tote them around tucked inside their onesies. But starting this month, babies and toddlers in DeKalb County can get their very own library cards.

With “My First Card” scrawled in colorful letters across the top and a drawing of an orange dog nibbling on a book (what, you were expecting a somber etching of Kierkegaard at his writing desk?), the card is aimed at those in the zero-to-four age range.

Young children have been able to get DeKalb County Public Library cards in the past. But the artwork on this new version, which includes the phrase “1000 Books Before Kindergarten,” is aimed at drawing attention to a major new program launching in DeKalb this month.

“1000 Books Before Kindergarten” will encourage parents and other caregivers to read regularly to and with their babies and toddlers. Participants will get a free starter book and other support materials — including reading logs, book recommendations and prizes for reaching certain levels. There’s also a “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” app available for iOS or Android devices that helps track progress towards that 1,000 book goal.

Yes, a thousand. Really.

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“A family reading three books a day will read 1,095 in one year,” said Jill Joplin, executive director of the DeKalb Library Foundation, which developed the program along with the library system. “A family reading one book a day will reach the goal in three years.

“Books read at storytime programs will count towards the goal, and reading the same book many times counts each time,” Joplin added.

Phew!

The program is open to anyone with young children using a DeKalb library branch. DeKalb Medical Center also is partnering with the library foundation to offer the program to the families of all new babies born there this summer.

Participation kits are available at all DeKalb County Public Library branches. In addition, there’ll be two kickoff events, at 10 a.m. April 28 at the Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library in Decatur and at 10 a.m. April 29 at the Chamblee Library.

Additional information is available at any DeKalb library branch or at dekalblibrary.org/1000books.

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