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Reaching for 1,000 Books

By Rachee Fagg
 | Oct 27, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-71553617_x300Last month, the Lansdowne Library officially kicked off their 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program.  With this preliteracy program, libraries across the United States encourage and support families and caregivers in reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers—in turn, fostering bonding between parents and children. Research shows that reading to children at home increases their reading readiness skills, so we are targeting children who have not yet started kindergarten.

The idea is that children will have a positive attitude about reading and will be eager to learn. They will acquire letter knowledge, background information, an awareness of the structure and sound of language, and a richer vocabulary—all from just listening to stories!

Although the idea of reading 1,000 books before kindergarten seems like a daunting task, it really is not! We broke it down into easy-to-accomplish goals:

  • 1 book a day for 3 years = 1,095 books
  • 10 books a week for 2 years = 1,040 books
  • 3 books a day for 1 year = 1,095 books

The Lansdowne Library was fortunate to have Charlotte Ryan, a fellow librarian within the Delaware County Library System, assist us with setting up and launching the program. Charlotte provided templates for logs and literacy tips, and she supported us when we had questions.

One thing Charlotte stressed was the ease of the program and she was correct. After the initial preparations (which really meant photocopying logs, stuffing folders, and reaching out to families of young children), the program is quite simple. Families are discovering new books and spending time together reading, and the feedback has been very positive.

How our program works:

  • Register at the Lansdowne Public Library and receive a folder and reading log for the first 100 books.
  • Read to the child/children and record the titles read.
  • Report via the reading log to the library when 100 books are read.
  • Receive small incentives for each 100 books read: a reading tip, and a log for the next 100 books.
  • Keep going! When 1,000 books are read, families receive a certificate and the child’s picture will be posted on our 1,000 Book Wall of Fame.

This program is for every child under 5 in a family, from infants to prekindergartners. The club’s end date is when the child begins school. There is no need to feel rushed, as this program is made to be enjoyed. It is to be used as an opportunity to read, talk, and sing with children. These activities will not only prepare children for school but also create special memories.

The most frequent question we were asked is, “Does the same book read over and over count?”

Our answer: Yes!

Children’s author and reading advocate Mem Fox encourages parents to “read at least three stories a day; it may even be the same story three times.”

We encourage families to read library books, books from their personal collection, books borrowed from a friend, anything to begin on the path to learning how to read while introducing thousands of new words and experiences along the way.

For more information about the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program or for a location near you, visit the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten website.

Rachee Fagg is head of children’s services at the Lansdowne Public Library in Lansdowne, PA.

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