Sharing early literacy practices, such as Every Child Ready to Read’s five early literacy practices (“Sing, Talk, Read, Write, Play”), Jump Start Kindergarten is an outreach activity that connects library staff with parents/caregivers of young children and emphasizes daily activities that will help children learn to read. Primarily designed for public library staff to conduct outreach activities in their local public elementary schools during Kindergarten Registration events, this program also helps parents/caregivers understand all the resources public libraries can provide to assist with school readiness and connects them with these resources through library card sign-up/promotion.

New! Is your community’s school or school district no longer offering a face-to-face Kindergarten Registration event? But your library would still like to reach out to those upcoming Kindergartners and their families with Jump Start resources and information about how their local library could help them prepare for Kindergarten? You’re in luck! Jump Start Kindergarten resources from ICfL are now available throughout the year and encourage libraries to request these materials whenever they are conducting outreach services for this targeted group of children (ages 4-5) and their caregivers. This could be for a local daycare’s family night or a Head Start’s monthly family literacy night, or some other community event for this target group. Not sure if your outreach idea is a good fit for Jump Start? Reach out to any Youth Services staff member at ICfL and we’ll be glad to discuss it with you.

Learn more about the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ (ICfL) Jump Start Kindergarten program below:

  • What’s the purpose? See Program Objectives
  • Who can apply? See Program Eligibility
  • How does it work? See Program Details & Requirements and Program Timeline
  • What materials are provided? See Program Resources
  • What schools are already being served? See weekly upload of Registration List 

Current program resource options:

Bilingual Book (available now)

English-Only Book (available now)

Bingo Activity Card (Eng/Sp)
Ready to Read parent handout (Eng/Sp)

The primary purposes of the Jump Start Kindergarten program and outreach events are:

  • To encourage daily reading time, including out-of-school reading time.
  • To connect families/caregivers of young children with the early literacy resources their local public library has available to help them prepare their child for school success.
  • To help every family/caregiver obtain a public library card and visit the library.

Who can apply:

This program is designed for public libraries to apply to serve local, publicly-funded elementary schools (see application below).

In some communities, the public library cannot serve every public elementary school, is located too far away from the local school, or does not have enough staff/staff time available to serve a school. If this is the case, a school library may register their Kindergarten Registration event, utilize program resources (including requesting books) and share public library resources in place of the public library staff. (See Program Details & Requirements below for more details on what this looks like.) If, after contacting their local public library, a school finds themselves in this situation, the first step is to submit the Program Interest Form for School Libraries linked below. A separate school library application will be sent to eligible school libraries after the interest form is reviewed.

Program Requirements:

  • Partner with and attend local elementary school Kindergarten Registration events in person or other community events which target 4-5 year olds and their caregivers. Request your own table at the event in a location where attending parents/family members will walk by or be required to stop at during the registration event. Ideally, the library/literacy table will become a part of the process and expectation for the event.
  • Bring and share relevant library resources that can be shared with participating adults and that will demonstrate how public library resources can support school readiness (i.e. Summer Reading program info, storytimes, Maker/STEM activities). Consider making your own copies of the early literacy handouts developed and provided by ICfL (see Program Resources). Consider bringing your own folders to insert your library’s information or ICfL handouts as ICfL no longer provides the red Jump Start folders.
  • Promote library card sign-up at the registration event. Consider offering a fine-waiver for library card sign-up at this event. Consider printing your library card sign-up form on a special color of paper or with a special logo or image on it to facilitate easy tracking of library card sign-ups that result from this event, even if the form is turned into the library at a later date.
  • Give a copy of the selected Jump Start book to every child or family unit who is at your Kindergarten-focused event – bilingual and English-only book choices are available. Be sure to point out the five early literacy skills outlined on the inside front cover of the book to the caregivers and explain the importance of daily reading. Review the Ready to Read handouts and Bingo Card for at-home activities parents/caregivers can do with their children. Consider using the Early Literacy Talking Points and other handouts available on our website (see Program Resources).
  • Track the number of children you make contact with (i.e. the number of books you gave out) and the number of library card sign-up you completed. Make note of what went well and what improvements you would like to suggest in preparation for completing a program summary report.
  • Submit a program summary report to ICfL within 30 days of your last Jump Start event. Please submit just one report for all of your events. Consider previewing the report form before you plan or offer your events so you are familiar with the information and data that will be expected on the report. (See Program Report).

Program Details:

Do’s –

  • Do contact your area elementary schools as early as possible (i.e. January 1st) to begin discussing their Kindergarten registration event or other Kindergarten-focused event and offer to host a library/literacy table at their event. Do explain that this is more than just a free book and explain your intent. Do contact the schools you intend to serve BEFORE you register for Jump Start with ICfL. Consider the list of schools already being served by other public libraries by reviewing the registration list posted and updated on our website each week.
  • Do keep a few of your left-over Jump Start books if you have room in your library and have a good method to distribute these books to the intended audience. (See correlating Do Not tip below).
  • Do consider adding a brief literacy or Maker activity to your library/literacy table at the event or consider incentivizing the connection to your public library by offering a free book to event participants who bring in a coupon on their next visit to your library.

Do Not’s –

  • Public libraries should not register to serve a school unless they can attend their registration event in person. They should not intend to just request books for these students and drop them off at the school for school staff to distribute. If a public library cannot serve a school, the school librarian may apply directly to ICfL for the Jump Start Kindergarten program and the school will be responsible for meeting the objectives and requirements of the program.
  • Do not keep LOTS of left-over books. If you did not distribute all the books you requested and there are many left over (i.e. 30+), please return the books to ICfL – either by mail or the next time you see any ICfL staff member or attend any ICfL event. There is no rush, but within a month or two would be best.

School Library Do and Do Not Section –

  • Do reach out to your local public library branch and request their attendance, active involvement in and planning for the event. If the public library and its staff cannot help with your event, request library program flyers and library card sign-up information to distribute at your event.
  • Do not simply hand over the books to a school volunteer, school secretary or other staff member to hand out with no library connection or literacy guidance. This is about more than a “free” book.
  • Do make a plan for a knowledgeable school staff member (i.e. reading specialist, Kindergarten teacher, school librarian) to host the library/literacy table and request public library card sign-up and program information ahead of time to share with parents/caregivers.
  • Do not expect that by registering your event, the public library will send a staff member to attend to your Kindergarten Registration event. Your school is applying to directly implement this literacy outreach activity because you contacted your local public library and they could not attend/service your event.

Program Resources to be mailed:

In 2019-2020, ICfL will mail each participating library the following resources/materials as requested on their program registration form:

  • An age-appropriate children’s book for libraries to give to participating children or the family/caregiver. This year, we have two books to choose from – a bilingual option – What Will We Build Today – and an English-Only option – Dog’s Colorful Day: A Messy Story. Libraries should consider the population they are serving and estimate how many of each book is needed for your event. Libraries may request a combination of both books but the request number should still be based on one book per child. Libraries should plan to return extra copies of the books, in excess of 20, to ICfL after your Kindergarten event.
  • Ready to Read handouts – ICfL developed two new, double-sided handouts last year which are full of great ideas for families/caretakers to incorporate the Five Early Literacy Skills into their daily activities. These handouts can be requested on the program registration form (if you run out, you can download and print more copies here).

Program Resources to be downloaded/printed by library:

ICfL is also making handouts from previous Jump Start program years, as well as relevant material from other literacy organizations, available for download and printing at your library.  The following resources/materials can be downloaded, printed and generally utilized by any Idaho library for any early literacy outreach efforts in your community throughout the year:

Program Timeline/Dates:

  • Registration period: August 1 – June 30 (Complete your registration at least 3-4 weeks before your earliest event date.)
  • Participant notification: You will receive email notification that your event has been approved within 2 weeks of completing the registration form.  
  • Material mailing: Jump Start materials (i.e. children’s book and a Ready to Read handouts) requested on the registration form will be mailed by ICfL to participating libraries as close to the date requested on the form as possible (please register at least 3-4 weeks prior to your event to enable ICfL to meet your mailing expectations).
  • Program Summary Report due: 30 days after your last Jump Start event, or by June 30 (If your area schools conduct Kindergarten Registration after June 30, please contact the Jump Start project coordinator for accommodations.)

See which libraries have already registered, which schools they are serving, and the resource amounts you requested last year by viewing the following registration lists:

Registration Lists

2020 Registration List
2019 Registration List

Program Registration

Open August 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020
JS Public Library Registration
JS School Library Registration

Summary Report

Due 3-4 weeks after event
JS Public Library Report
JS School Library Report

Questions? Contact Kristina Taylor

Kristina Taylor

Kristina Taylor

Project Coordinator
Email / 208.639.4136
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This program is brought to you by the Idaho Commission for Libraries and was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.