Kinder and 1st Grade Students Receive Public Library Cards

Kinder and 1st Grade Students Receive Public Library Cards
Posted on 08/14/2017
CVESD kindergarten and first grade students received free library cards.

First grade student Emma Valcazar is already reading chapter books, her mother proudly noted. While Emma developed a love for reading early, school officials are hoping her interest catches on with classmates across the District.

Emma (photo, center) is among more than 7,000 kindergarten and first grade students in the Chula Vista Elementary School District who started the 2017-18 school year with public library cards.

The cards are part of the District's innovative partnership with the city of Chula Vista Public Library. The cards do not require parent registration or signature. There are no fines for overdue books or fees. And the card is good through the student's sixth grade.

“We know that the presence of books in the home is an indicator of school success and academic success,” said Betty Waznis, director of the Chula Vista Public Library. “Developing the habit of reading, of visiting the library, helps bring more books into the hands of early readers and into their homes.”

The library card initiative is part of a broader campaign to get more children to achieve proficiency in reading by the third grade. The free library cards are aimed at elementary students, making it one of the more unique programs in the country. The program puts library cards in the hands of early grade students without the burden of paperwork; there is no need for parents to fill out an application form.

Obtaining a library card is an important step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning. Libraries across the nation are attempting to strengthen partnerships with local schools.

“By providing equal access to books, computers, and electronic resources, libraries play an essential role in addressing academic achievement gaps for children living in poverty. But there is more to be done. We know that first grade students who have library cards are more than twice as likely to visit libraries as other first graders,” said Institute of Museum and Library Services Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, in prepared remarks.

A public library card is a ticket to free educational resources and activities such as homework help, digital workshops for all-ages, STEAM programs/activities, book clubs, family story-times and game nights, District officials said.

"Our partnership with the Chula Vista Public Library continues to grow in such wonderful ways to support the academic well-being of our children," said Gloria E. Ceriza, CVESD Executive Director, Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. "Access to the many resources our city libraries have to offer is key to building early foundational literacy skills and a love for learning.  Great things happen for our children when communities work together to provide rich learning experiences in school and around the city."

The Chula Vista Public Library’s early learning programs and CVESD’s efforts to move more students to grade-level proficiency have complemented the City’s “Campaign for Grade Level Reading” initiative. For example, the library’s “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” initiative served to promote early and consistent home-based reading to babies and toddlers.

The library card initiative is a natural extension of the collaborative efforts of the District, the city and the library in promoting early literacy, Ciriza said.

The cards were given a catchy name: REAL (Read, Explore, Achieve @your Library). The card enables students to take home two library books for free, and borrow two more when they are returned.

Students who use their REAL card prior to September 15 will be entered in a drawing to win a free bicycle. Click here to learn more about the program.

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