Building early readers: McDonald County librarian launches '100 Books Before Kindergarten' program – Joplin Globe

Cloudy skies this evening. A few showers developing late. Low 59F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%..
Cloudy skies this evening. A few showers developing late. Low 59F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Updated: November 9, 2021 @ 10:59 pm
Joplin, MO
Hannah Granger, librarian at schools at Southwest City and Noel, reads a book to an early childhood student as part of the program 100 Books Before Kindergarten, which she created. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Pablo Benhumea looks over a book he checked out as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program for early childhood students at Southwest City Elementary. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Jill Winkler, library aid at Southwest City Elementary School, helps early childhood students check out books Tuesday as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program. Globe | Roger Nomer
Jill Winkler, library aid at Southwest City Elementary School, helps Elana Kidd check out a book Tuesday as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Early childhood students select books Tuesday from the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program at Southwest City Elementary School. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Gena Thompson, an early childhood teacher at Southwest City Elementary School, reads books available through the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program with her students Tuesday. The program, created by librarian Hannah Granger, was launched at Noel Primary School in October, and Tuesday marked the first day at Southwest City Elementary. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER

News reporter
Hannah Granger, librarian at schools at Southwest City and Noel, reads a book to an early childhood student as part of the program 100 Books Before Kindergarten, which she created. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Pablo Benhumea looks over a book he checked out as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program for early childhood students at Southwest City Elementary. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Jill Winkler, library aid at Southwest City Elementary School, helps early childhood students check out books Tuesday as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program. Globe | Roger Nomer
Jill Winkler, library aid at Southwest City Elementary School, helps Elana Kidd check out a book Tuesday as part of the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Early childhood students select books Tuesday from the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program at Southwest City Elementary School. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Gena Thompson, an early childhood teacher at Southwest City Elementary School, reads books available through the 100 Books Before Kindergarten program with her students Tuesday. The program, created by librarian Hannah Granger, was launched at Noel Primary School in October, and Tuesday marked the first day at Southwest City Elementary. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
SOUTHWEST CITY, Mo. — Three- and 4-year-olds enrolled in prekindergarten at Noel’s Primary School and Southwest City Elementary School are being exposed to early literacy skills through a new reading program called “100 Books Before Kindergarten.”
The program, created by Hannah Granger, librarian at Noel Primary School and Southwest City Elementary, encourages children to read 100 books with their family before they enter elementary school. 
“There are studies upon studies that the earlier you introduce children to reading pictures and have them surrounded by books, it improves them academically, as well as their social and emotional awareness,” Granger said. “I’m a really big believer that relationships build readers.”
Research shows that early literacy skills have positive effects on school success. Students who weren’t proficient in reading by the end of third grade were four times more likely to drop out of high school than proficient readers, according to a long-term study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on improving the well-being of American children.
Granger created the program to prepare students for kindergarten and foster relationships with families by allowing them to interact through stories. She implemented the 100 Books Before Kindergarten project this fall at her two schools, where roughly 40 children are enrolled in prekindergarten.
A book cart equipped with a mobile checkout station is placed near the entrances of the schools during family pickup and drop-off. The books can be accessed for free every Tuesday and Thursday. The program was launched at Noel Primary School in October, and Tuesday marked the first day at Southwest City Elementary.
“It can be a struggle to create that love for reading and that it’s not something you have to do,” Granger said. “My goal with this program at both schools is to get them to see that we can read for fun, and we can read with our family to create special memories.”
Funding for the program was provided by a grant through Donors Choose, a nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects. The donations were used to buy five-minute stories like “Llama Llama,” “Pete the Cat” and “My Little Pony.”
“Most of these books are board books, mainly because they’re a lot harder to destroy than paperback books,” Granger said. “They’re intended for younger readers and are more condensed.”
Elana Kidd, a 4-year-old Southwest City Elementary student, returned her book on pets before picking out a new one, “My First 100 Art Words.” Elana, who wore a white dress with colored doodles printed on it, said she loves art.
“I like to paint flowers and rainbows,” she said.
The Neosho-Newton County Library has a similar year-round challenge for children called “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten,” which is where Granger said she got the idea. Because the library doesn’t stay open past 6 p.m., Granger said, many parents miss out on the opportunity to access books. She believes this will provide an additional resource within the community.
“I live in Neosho, and our public library does a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, and it starts when they’re 3,” Granger said. “Since we’re such a small, rural community, our hours don’t line up with the library’s hours. It makes it hard for our families who work night shift. I was thinking of an alternative way to get books into the hands of our youngest ones.”
Gena Thompson, prekindergarten teacher at Southwest City Elementary, said the children are being exposed to the alphabet, both written and phonetically, in their classroom daily, and this program expands on the curriculum. She said the books are the perfect size because the children are still developing their fine motor skills.
“I know our kindergarten teachers say that they see a difference from the pre-K kids here at school versus the ones who don’t come to pre-K because it’s not mandatory,” Thompson said. “I’m glad because I have kids who may not have access to books, and I think this is a great way to see how easy it is to check out a book. We’re getting them into the rhythm.”
Hannah Rosenbohm, a parent and kindergarten-fourth grade special education teacher at Southwest City Elementary, said she reads to her 4-year-old son, Cullen, every night and are able to make connections in their own lives with the books. It also gives them the opportunity to form memorable experiences. Cullen is a fan of animal books and on Tuesday checked out a book with a coyote on the cover.
“My son is very adventurous, and he tells me all the time that he wants to be John Wayne,” Rosenbohm said. “He likes animal books and farm books. We want to start that love for learning early on. We … need to start that fire where they want to know about the story.”
Hannah Granger is collecting donations to continue purchasing books for the “100 Books Before Kindergarten” program. Anyone wanting to donate can visit https://www.donorschoose.org/project/building-reading-leaders-100-books-bef/5516211.
News reporter
Kimberly Barker is a news reporter for The Globe who covers Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, as well as Carl Junction, Carthage and Webb City.
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NEOSHO, MO – Lloyd Doke, 89, a School Board Member for District R-8, passed away Saturday, November 6, 2021. Celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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