“1000 Books Before Kindergarten --The concept is simple, the rewards are priceless.” Read one thousand books to your children before they start kindergarten. Libraries across America host this program with the hope that involvement will foster a lifelong love of reading and encourage family bonding through reading. The Huntsville Public Library has participated in the program for roughly one year with over thirty children involved in it. “We had our first child complete the program last month and it was so exciting,” says Children’s Coordinator Rachel McPhail.
Four year old Isaiah is the very excited pre-kindergartner to first complete the program. Rachel McPhail asked his mother Esha to talk about their experience with the 1000 Books program. “We were really excited to start this program. It gave us a target, a goal to achieve. I explained to Isaiah that we are going to read 1000 books together and keep a log of them all… Once we started, we couldn’t stop. We had so [many] laughs reading books together. I will cherish these memories as Isaiah’s mom,” she says.
One thousand books may seem like a lot, so for parents wondering how to incorporate that volume of reading into a busy daily routine, Esha says to not focus on the large number. “We figured that if we read 20 books per week, we can finish in one year. We finished it in less than 6 months actually—so much sooner than we targeted,” she explains.
McPhail breaks down the thousand books further: reading three books a day for a year exceeds the goal. “Instead of thinking one thousand, focus on the fun you can have. Try to make it a game! Share books you enjoyed as a child or pick books on different topics. The good news is that the Huntsville Public Library doesn’t require that you read a thousand different books. It can be the same book as often as your child wants,” says McPhail.
Isaiah definitely discovered a few favorites during the program experience. “His favorite book of all time from the 1000 books was Hooray Hooray for Bread. It is written by an English author and the illustrations are so whimsical! It is definitely a must read. Also, bread is one of Isaiah’s favorite food so that surely played a role!” says Esha, “We kept a log of books that he loved (some because of its story and some because of the colorful illustrations), and we ended up with about 60 books in his “fav books” list.
As for Isaiah, he is very proud of his accomplishment. “And now that we are so used to reading many books, we have continued [with it]. So reading [has] become part of our daily routine. Huntsville Public Library has some great children’s books and we were happy to find some amazing reads along the path to 1000 Books Before Kindergarten!” says Esha.
Here are some of Isaiah’s other favorites read during the program and a short reason why he liked them..
Congratulations to Another four-year-old Young Reader Lucienne on completing the One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten program at the library. Lucienne is a regular at the library and we enjoy her enthusiasm for reading.
Libraries across America have been incorporating this program to encourage a love of reading in young children. One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten is an early literacy initiative that encourages parents and caregivers to incorporate reading into children’s daily routines. The goal of the program is simple: read one thousand books before the child starts kindergarten.
Lucienne completed this program during the month of May. Her favorite book that she read with her family during the program was Eloise, but she has also enjoyed reading all the Pinkalicious and Disney Princess stories she could find. At the start of the program, Lucienne was excited to track her reading progress at home since it’s something her older brothers do for their schoolwork.
When she completed the program, Lucienne felt proud. Her mother made sure to show Lucienne her progress on the bulletin board in the Children’s room of the library which has stars with each participant’s name written on them. As each child reaches a milestone (100, 200, 300, etc.), his or her name progresses across the board. Lucienne’s mother explained that the stars were a simple way for Lucienne to see her progress as the numbers were a bit too abstract for her age. Lucienne and her mother enjoyed reading the email with the news that she had completed the program. She was also excited to come to the library to pick up her prizes for completing the program.
Lucienne’s mother explained that she knew that the goal of one thousand books would take some time to accomplish but reading is something that her family enjoys doing and they were confident they would finish before Lucienne starts kindergarten. “Reading has always been an important part of my life and it was important for us to pass on the love of books to our kids. We read at home with our kids all the time. It has been a pleasure to watch Lucienne feel passionate about reading too and we look forward to the day when she is able to pick up books on her own. However, even as she gets older, I hope we always make time to sit down and read together,” she explained.
Sebastian and his mom, Jessica, are regular visitors at the Huntsville Public Library. They started the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge in January 2017. The library is pleased to announce that Sebastian and Jessica just completed the program in April. The goal of this program is to encourage parents and caregivers to make a habit of reading to their children. At the age of 3, Sebastian is the youngest community member to have completed the program so far.
Here’s what Sebastian (in his own words, with help from Jessica) said.
Q. What are your favorite books?
A. Curious George!
Q. How did you like coming to the library to find books?
A. I go to the library and get books. I like it. It’s good.
Q. You’ve read 1000 books. Was that hard?
Q. Now that you’ve read 1000 books, what should you and Mom do?
A. Let’s buy a cake!
Q. Jessica, did you find yourself incorporating more reading time into your daily activities as a result of starting the program?
A. We were always going to read a lot with him, but I think having the challenge in mind helped me search out new books for us and find creative ways to make reading fun for him. We’ve had book picnics, set up reading forts, and invited imaginary friends to read with us.
Q. Jessica, is there anything else you would like to say about your experience with the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program?
A. More than the program itself, the trips to the library to participate in storytime and get new books is one of the best activities in his baby/toddler life. The library is where he’s met all his best friends, both real and imaginary. I am eternally grateful as a mom that the library offers such great programs and resources and is so warm and open to its youngest patrons.