Clay County libraries launch two family reading programs


ORANGE PARK – November is National Family Literacy Month and the Clay County library system has launched two new programs to encourage family engagement at their local library.

To get more families involved in reading, Clay County libraries have launched Read Squared and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. Read Squared, which is a software app that allows users to track their total books read down to the minute and earn digital awards while doing so, is meant to encourage additional reading from all ages. The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is meant to get caregivers more actively involved with their children’s literacy education.

“Both of these programs accomplish different things but at the end of the day, they’re meant to encourage us as a community to read more,” Orange Park Library Volunteer Coordinator Victoria Hapner said. “Reading is the foundation of everything we do and this fosters a lifelong, positive relationship with reading.”

Signing up for Read Squared is as simple as obtaining a library card, which requires a Clay County ID or a parent’s library card. From there, Read Squared is an app that connects to your library account and can be used as any app on your phone would be used. 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is even easier to take part in — simply read a book to your child every day before leading up to their first day of Kindergarten.

“We caregivers are a child’s first teacher and reading to them this much before Kindergarten builds their vocabulary, increases their attention span, stimulates brain activity and ensures they’re up to speed when they start school,” Hapner said.

Both of these programs go beyond simply reading to one’s child or allowing them to read books from the library. Hapner said it’s important for caregivers to read, too, as it’s important for children to see their parents or guardians reading.

“It shows them that reading is a lifelong skill,” Hapner said.

Once a caregiver is logged into the Read Squared app, they can create their own account as well as their child’s account to track book progress, minute progress, digital badges and certificates. It’s a one-stop shop for keeping up with all things reading through the Clay County library system.

The app’s goal system is especially useful for caregivers, according to Hapner, as it allows them to set goals for their children.

The best part about both of these programs is that they’re included for free with a Clay County library account. Clay County residents with library cards gain access to these two programs as well as five expansive book libraries across Middleburg, Orange Park, Fleming Island, Keystone Heights and Green Cove Springs. They’ll also gain access to DVDs, computer programs, 3-D printers, sewing kits, laser cutters, training courses and classes.

“Libraries are so much more than they used to be,” Hapner said. “We’re more a community center now than the place where a librarian tells you shhh over and over.”

Whether it’s Read Squared or 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten or one of your local libraries many free programs that gets you and your family in, the Clay County Library system just wants to see families connect through literacy, Hapner said.

“Family that read together, succeed together,” she said.


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