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Friday, January 11, 2013

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

1000 Books Before Kindergarten--a catchy name, a great idea, and a project that is easy to tailor to your own community and replicate. Libraries across the country are catching on!

The goal of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is to encourage early literacy development and young families reading together.  Because repetition is a great think for kids' developing brains, most libraries tell parents to count each time a book is read.  What does reading 1000 books look like?
  • One bedtime story every night for three years.  
  • Ten books a week for two years.  
  • Twenty books a week for one year (that's just 3 books a day).
The program has many variations:
  • Incentives. 
    • Most libraries have some sort of a display--a physical representation of the number of books being read by participants.  In Hammond, for every 100 books, kids get to put a leaf on a tree in the library (and for every 25 books, they get a sticker to put in their own record book).  In Altoona, they'll be using a train mural in the front of the circulation desk, with kids putting up stickers every 100 books.
Altoona's 1000-books train

    • Many libraries give books to kids when they've had a 1000 books read to them--and some libraries give a book at 250, 500 and 750 books read.  Some libraries give out nursery rhyme collections or music CDs, too.
    • Many libraries have some sort of special event (or events) to celebrate the program, including graduation parties--or just plain parties for all participants.
    • Michelle Johnson, director at the Hammond Public Library, says that the best and most exciting incentives are more intangible--parents and kids are enjoying spending more time reading together, and the both kids and parents are excited to watch their pre-reading skills grow as kids gear up for kindergarten.
  • Funding
    • Some libraries go all out and get sponsors for the program, enabling them to do lots of incentives and serve many kids.  Menomonie got a generous donation from an individual who saw a presentation about their soon-to-start program at a Lions Club meeting.  Others get their Friends groups involved.
    • Other libraries have this worked into their regular budget.  In Hammond, Michelle uses Scholastic Dollars from a book fair the library holds every year.  That way, members of the community are contributing to this program when they purchase things at the fair.
  • Getting participants
    • Ages:  some start with babies, others wait till the child will be most excited to add something to their library display (2 or 3 years old), others really put a push on for kids starting 4K.
    • Many libraries partner with preschools, Headstart, daycare centers, 4K programs, etc. to promote the program.
I got notes from several libraries in IFLS-land who are various stages of starting their own 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.  How cool is that?  

If you want more information or need someone to brainstorm with, contact me (langby @ ifls.lib.wi.us) or check out this excellent summary by the Colorado State Library.


  1. I am working on starting a 1000 Books program in Bloomer and I've found a few good resources. For stats and information for potential sponsors read more at Bryce Don't Play. Winding Rivers Library System has PDFs of their reading logs, parent letter and other potentially useful stuff on their Youth Services page.

  2. The Youth Services link didn't work above,so here's the new one. Youth Services