Franklin child completes more than 1,000 books before kindergarten
Published 11:44 am Saturday, June 13, 2015
Ever since Steven was a baby, Dana Zebrowski wanted to make sure reading would always be a part of his life. It is, after all, a family tradition.
When Dana was a child in Windsor, her mother, Karen Cobb, would take her to the library in Suffolk for books and take them home to read. Now, Steven is a regular at the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library in Franklin, where about a year ago they learned of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program.
“So we started keeping track of the books we were reading,” Dana said. “If we had kept track since he started, he would have probably read another 1,000 books.”
Now 3 and a half, Steven officially completed his first thousand books in April. With more than two years until Kindergarten starts, Dana said he’ll probably rack up another 2,000.
“We read about three books a day,” she said. “Sometimes it’s up to six, and other days it’s just a couple.”
The record keeping was also not perfect, as sometimes they’d forget to log a book.
“It was fun, though,” she said. “It was neat to see what books he got hung up on — the ones he would want to read over and over again.”
Dana said she started reading to him when he was about a month old, and once he was able to start walking and could reach the bookshelf, he started bringing different children’s tomes to her.
“He will bring you book after book after book, whether it’s bed time or nap time, he’ll just keep doing it,” she said with a laugh, but added that it’s not a bad thing because it keeps him sitting still. “He does not sit still for much, but he will for a book, sometimes.”
Steven also does a little bit of reading himself. While he knows his alphabet and can recite his letters, he can’t truly read all the words just yet. But some books he’s had read to him so many times that he’s got them memorized.
“He will sit in front of the book and recite it word for word,” Dana said. “Most of the time, when children are too quiet, that’s when you worry. While that’s true sometimes, often he’ll just be reading a book. He’ll make up a story if he doesn’t know it.”
The daily practice of reading has done a lot for his imagination.
“Books take you to so many places,” Dana said. “When you are little, there’s only so much of the world that you can experience. But you can do so much more in books. He loves it!”
“I like knights,” Steven mentioned. “I like making up stories about them.”
Even Katie Hedgepeth, the youth programmer who runs the story time at the library, said she’s noticed his imagination.
“He is very creative,” she said. “When he answers questions — sometimes they are quite funny — you can see his logic.
“When I ask, ‘What do you think happens next?’ You can tell how he got there, even if it’s not exactly what will happen next.”
Dana said socialization was one of the reasons she started bringing him to story time when he was about 2 years old. She admits it has helped, and Hedgepeth has noticed it.
“When he first got here, he was shy and would hardly leave his mom’s side,” Hedgepeth said. “Over the months, he’s become so friendly. He is always ready to dance and read stories.”
“I like to play here,” Steven added. “I have lots of friends. I like to sing songs with Miss Katie.”
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program began in Franklin in August of 2013.
To participate, you log the books, and even the same book multiple times counts. For every 100 books read, you bring the log back to the library for a free book of your own.
“Reading is really good for building vocabulary and awareness, which are often concepts that are important in kindergarten,” Hedgepeth said. “It also helps with thinking skills.”
For Steven, he reads because he enjoys it. He likes books featuring characters such as Pete the Cat, Thomas the Tank Engine and Clifford the Big Red Dog.
“I like to read everything,” he admitted, adding that he also enjoyed the story of the mouse and the cookie. “I like all the stories.”
For Dana, the practice is perhaps even more important.
“Really, it’s just a good chance to sit down and spend time together,” she said. “He asks a lot of questions, learns words and develops his speech. There’s countless benefits to it.
“With the way the world is now, with how busy everyone is and with technology like cell phones and TVs, reading isn’t something that all kids get. I think that’s sad because it was such a big part of my childhood. I wanted it to be a part of Steven’s.”