York County Libraries will celebrate first graders' reading achievements.

The organization will hold a free Grade One at the Library (GOAL) Celebration from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Penn State York Conference Center, 1031 Edgecomb Ave. in Spring Garden Township.

GOAL introduces first-graders to books, resources and programs at the 13 library branches that make up York County Libraries, said Deb Sullivan, the organization's community relations director.

The goal is to get library cards in the hands of every first-grade student in the county, she said.

This year, the GOAL program has worked with 16 school districts and 11 private schools, Sullivan said.

Since its start in 2008, more than 17,650 first-grade students have participated in the GOAL program, and more than a half million library books have been checked out by them, according to Sullivan.

"The children still continue the practice of reading library books after (GOAL)," she said. "And then the reading programs at our libraries keep them interested in coming back and learning in fun ways."

Featured author: GOAL's featured author for the last three years is Will Hillenbrand of Terrace Park, Ohio. He is a children's author and illustrator, who has written more than 50 books, including "Off We Go!," "Don't Slam the Door" and "Down by the Station."


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During the GOAL celebration, Hillenbrand will tell stories, do illustrations and autograph his books, Sullivan said.

Children are encouraged to bring their Hillenbrand

books for him to sign, she said.

Local storyteller Beth Rebert will do a presentation on a children's book titled "Kiss the Cow." Skeeta the Clown will do face painting, Sullivan said.

GOAL has been sponsored by PeoplesBank since the program's start, according to Sullivan.

Hillenbrand is the second writer to serve as the program's featured author, whose duties include helping to spark and maintain children's interests in libraries and reading. A new author will be chosen for next year's program and will serve three years, Sullivan said.

She said she hopes the GOAL also will help parents learn the various educational opportunities available at local libraries to help their children learn to read.

"We really hope that the kids will get connected to all the things available to them for free at their libraries like summer programs and reading clubs," Sullivan said. "We really hope to ignite a life-long love of reading and learning in children."

--Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at emcmillan@yorkdispatch.com.