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Hundreds of first graders sign up for library cards

Membership at the Selma and Dallas County Public Library is about to go way up thanks to hundreds of new members who might be visiting for the first time.

Over the next two weeks, approximately 500 first graders will come to the library with their schools and sign up for library cards.

It’s an annual rite of passage for all first graders in Selma and Dallas County public schools, said the library’s executive director Becky Nichols.

“This is just one of the ways the library reaches out to the community to try and ease the barriers, which in this case might be transportation,” Nichols said. “It’s a great project.”

On Wednesday morning, a group from Cedar Park Elementary School came in on school buses, while other schools are expected almost every day the next two weeks.

“It’s not a small deal. We will blitz the entire [school systems],” Nichols said. “We get great cooperation from the schools.”

During their visit, the first graders made a bead necklace to hang their library cards from and heard Nichols read a book about working together called “The Enormous Potato.”

It’s a book she’s read so often she has memorized and joked that she wanted to be read at her funeral.

“Everybody loves that story because of what it is,” Nichols said

The students were also given a tour of the library’s children’s section and challenged to come back and visit and check out books on their own. The first class to have 100 percent of its students visit the library a second time will earn a pizza party.

“All these students will hopefully come back through to visit us and bring their families with them,” Nichols said. “No store sits back and waits for their customers — they advertise. We are no different.”

First grade is the earliest children can sign up for a library card, but Nichols said the library is looking at ways to engage kindergarteners next year, especially ahead of the library’s summer reading program.

“We want to start immersing them before the summer starts. The only way to get our families more educated is to immerse them with information and options and anything that adds to their thinking power. Children are the key,” Nichols said.