On Sunday, April 9, readers who completed the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge by the Perry Public Library celebrated with a graduation-style ceremony, equipped with blue gowns, caps, and a special recognition. The program allows kids to sign-up with a goal in mind of reading 1,000 books before the April graduation ceremony.

“It does sound daunting, but most of those parents have told me, ‘We usually read a couple a day anyway,’” Suzanne Kestle, Children’s Librarian at the Perry Public Library said. “If you think you read three to five books to your child anyway then it’s really doable.”

Five children were celebrated at the ceremony for their completion of the 1,000 books. Participants wore a cap and gown, and were able to to take home a certificate, a book bundle, and also their cap afterwards.

Kestle first heard about the program at a workshop.

“Somebody had mentioned it, so I actually came back and kind of looked it up to see what it was,” Kestle said. “I just decided that it was something that would be good for our library.”

With thirty-four signed up, Kestle said the only deadline considered is the April time line for the ceremony. This year, five participants were celebrated alongside family members at Sunday’s ceremony.

Participants sign-up at the library and a log is made in order to keep track of the first one hundred books read and so on. Books can be read more than once, Kestle said.

Family members are also heavily involved in the book challenge.

“It’s parents, grandparents, siblings, somebody that can read, reads to them and it’s a bonding experience,” Kestle said.

The Perry Public Library introduced Nevada-based, non-profit program to the community in order to bring together families as well as address literacy issues.

“Two years ago, I started the 1000 books before kindergarten, but I didn’t really start pushing it until we started this literacy initiative,” Kestle said.

The literacy initiative helps address five scenarios in which children struggle to read at a grade level: summer regression, school readiness, school absenteeism, social economic factors, and high-quality teaching.

Murphy says the program allows children to focus on learned skills through reading such as reading left to write, knowing how to look for the author and title, as well as being able to open a book by themselves.

“If we bring them up to grade-level reading, they will have more success in their life,” Perry Public Library Director, Mary Murphy said.

The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is open to the public and free to sign-up. Murphy said the April ceremony will become an annual event for the library.