This school year North Dakota schools offered a free reading program. It not only gets kids to start reading at a young age but it creates a special bond between parents and their children.

Research shows if a child isn’t reading properly by the time they are in third grade they have a significantly lower chance of ever catching up.

That’s where Raising a Reader comes in. Every Monday for 25 weeks, children ages 0-5 years-old will go into elementary school libraries with their parents. They will get a bag of books for the week in hopes to get them excited to start reading and provide quality bonding time.

Brian Alderin is one of the 15 regulars that go to Fort Lincoln Elementary School every Monday to get new books for his kids. While he didn’t start reading young he wanted to make sure his kids did.

“Right before bed we read about 3 to 4 books and we let Bennett pick them and then we’ll read them and then he will repeat after us what we say,” says Alderin. “And then he will show Brekken the pictures and tell him what’s on the pictures.”

For Jacey Wanner and her daughter Delia, they say Raising a Reader has given them the opportunity to read anytime without limitations.

“We usually start our day with a book or two. We love reading books with breakfast time and then before bed is a great time of course,” says Wanner. “She also loves to read books while we are potty training. So we read books while we are sitting on the toilet.”

While it’s only been a few months since they’ve participated in the program, Jacey says she’s already seeing a lot of improvements.

“She’s starting to do – where she’s saying the first part of the sentence and then she will finish it and especially with our Raising a Reader books,” says Wanner.

Fort Lincoln Elementary teacher, Jaydin Underwood, says she can definitely see a difference in her students who start reading at an early level.

“As a first-grade teacher, I can recognize gaps in reading and I think this program will really allow kids to come in knowing vocabulary and knowing how to read a book and how to work with sentences and just overall an amazing program to get kids started for the overall love of reading,” says Underwood.

Mandan Public Schools have around 220 families registered for the program right now and parents, teachers, and children all say they are absolutely loving it.

Mandan Public School’s Literacy Coordinator Vonda Dahl says, “The idea is within a condensed amount of time, 25 weeks, they are exposed to 75 to 100 different books and most parents don’t have that kind of library in their home. The other thing is they are coming into the local elementary school to get those books so its fun for the kids to become acquainted with their local elementary school before they start kindergarten.”

You can still sign up for Raising a Reader and it is available in Mandan, Bismarck, and Minot. For more information, click here.