Free book Program promotes early-childhood literacy

Under the One Book 4 Colorado program, local 4-year-olds can claim a free copy of David Shannon's book "Duck on a Bike" at the Cortez Public Library starting this week.

The library has about 200 English copies, and 35 Spanish copies. They will be given away first-come, first-serve until May 20, children's librarian Laura McHenry said.

One Book 4 Colorado is a collaboration between Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia's office, non-profits, public libraries and the business sector. Preschool age children with access to books, and adults that read to them often, are more prepared when they start kindergarten, according to the campaign's website. Books are especially important to low-income families, whose kids hear up to 30 million fewer words before age four than higher-income peers.

"It's proven that if you introduce books early, you create lifelong readers. This is a proactive measure to promote early literacy," McHenry said.

This is the program's second go-around. In 2012, the selected book was "Maybe a Bear Ate It!" by Robie Harris.