1000 Books Before Kindergarten

Our local library recently started a program entitled 1000 Books Before Kindergarten as a way of encouraging parents to read to their young children.


In our house, we read all the time.  I homeschool my kids, and our homeschooling largely consists of sitting down with stacks of books and reading them together.


When one of the children’s librarians told us about the program, my older son immediately announced, “Mama, we should sign up [my 3-year-old].”  He paused briefly, “You want to do it, right Kyle?”  Of course, my 3-year-old said yes.  After all, there was a cute squirrel mascot and he could get a stamp on his hand.


I’m not usually a big fan of programs that give kids stickers or prizes or whatever else for reading books.  I feel very strongly that all kids should develop a love of reading simply as a reward unto itself.  I don’t want my kids to simply read a book in order to earn a prize or gain some recognition.


Reading is fun.  You can learn things.  You can explore places in which you may never set foot.  You can picture a life – if only for a period – that is very different from your own.  (You can read more of my thoughts about the importance of reading fiction HERE, and that only scratches the surface of the things you can learn from reading books in the broader sense: non-fiction, poetry, how-to books, and so on).  If asked about my core beliefs, my husband would likely joke that one of them is: there’s no problem a book can’t solve.  And it would be pretty close to the truth.


But to my 8-year-old, the idea of reading 1000 books sounded like a huge and exciting adventure.  With his enthusiasm as our motivation, we signed up my 3-year-old and came home with a check-off sheet for books 1-100.


Over the course of our experience, we all learned – or were quickly reminded of – a couple of things.  First, we remembered that I’m not very good at checking off items every time we do them.  I tend to do the thing, but – unless it’s something very important that I need to track (in which case I’m very methodical about it) – I don’t make the effort to record it.  I’ll sit there and think, I should check off that book on our sheet.  Then I’ll decide that I’ll do it later because it’s really nice to sit cuddled with my son on the couch, or because the book in my hands is quickly being replaced with another one, or because someone is asking for lunch, or something similar that seems more pressing than making an unrequired checkmark on a piece of paper.


Second, we learned that we read a large number of books each day.  In fact, even with my lax approach to recording books, we found out that we read over 100 books a week.  Now, before you are too wowed by this number, remember I am reading to a preschooler.  We read books such as Woolbur, Something from Nothing, Pete the Cat, Zen Shorts, Miss Rumphius, The Gruffalo, and other short and sweet picture books.  Also remember that I’m with my children all day.  If my boys attended school everyday, time constraints would influence the number of books we read together.


What this tells me, is that anyone who reads to their kids regularly can read 1000 books before kindergarten.  And, if you want to track it, it’s a fun milestone to achieve.  1000 books sounds like a huge number, but it’s something you can easily accomplish with a little bit of persistence.  And, more important than hitting any particular number goal, you’ll help your child to establish a lifelong habit of reading, help to instill in your child a love of books, and you’ll get to enjoy all of those wonderful snuggles as you cuddle up on the couch and read together.



Have you ever tried to count the number of books that you read with your child?



If you’re looking for more picture books suggestions, please see: Bear Snores On, Barnyard Dance, Goodnight Moon, Omnibeasts, Hello Baby, and my favorite books for one-year-olds.


You can find these and other great books to read with your kids at Better World Books and Amazon.

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