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First Grade, First Library Card

Photo Credit: Stephen Kallao
Literacy is a fundamental life skill.  And there's no more crucial time in a student's academic life than first grade.  During those few precious months in school, students are learning a skill that will prepare them for a lifetime of success, both in an out of the classroom.

That's why the Milwaukee Public Library in September launched a new youth literacy campaign called  Imagination Starts Here.  Its goal is to provide first graders their first library cards and to get them excited about using the library.

"They want to learn how to read.  To them, it's like a puzzle that they're figuring out," said Kelly Hughbanks, coordinator of youth services for Milwaukee Public Libraries.

Hughbanks says when it comes to learning to read, time is of the essence.

"If a child is a strong reader, they're much more likely to enjoy going to school because they don't find it so frustrating," she said. "In first and second grade they're learning how to read, then there's a definite switch in third grade where they're reading to learn."

Celebrating the new literacy campaign, the Central Library invited Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to present a group of first graders from Benjamin Franklin School with their first library cards.

"I want them to know that reading is cool and having a library card is cool, but it is also a sign that they're becoming a big kid.  And I want them to be excited about it," said Barrett.

"I want them to know what a great resource the Milwaukee Public Library is," he added.

Beyond books, each Milwaukee Public Library offers computer access, music, DVDs, supplemental educational programs, and homework help.  

To find out what's going on in your local library, visit MPL's official website.


To hear the audio version of this story, click the podcast player below.