Friday, September 14, 2012

Why 1000 Books Before Kindergarten?

Our library has a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. It's awesome.

Here are the reasons that it's awesome:
1) The kids know that they're a part of something. Something big.  Whenever they finish 100 books, they come to turn in their sheet, waving it in the air and skipping. You can tell they're really proud.
2) Parents are cognizant about their role in school readiness. Reading before school is not only a fun way to bond as family, it actually does terrific stuff to the brain. Like map it to be smart.
3) It benefits us, it benefits them. Our circulation numbers increase. The families have a successful, productive visit to the library. The kids feel good coming to the library. Snag 'em early.

Here's not a reason why it's awesome.
1)Studies show that kids should read 1,000 books before Kindergarten. Despite that the idea has been passed around a lot for the last year, no one has ever scientifically concluded that kids should read 1,000 books before Kindergarten.

What's the big idea?
This post was inspired by the large number of libraries, wanting to join the 1000 Books B4K movement, attempting to write grants to fund their programs. They need research as a backbone for their grants, but they have trouble finding it. So they turn to list-servs, where I attempt to help them out. I've pretty much written a version of this in personal emails 10 times over the past 6 months.

If you're looking for the research you can use, you've come to the right place. Because I'm gonna lay it out for you here.

What does the research say? 
1. "Home literacy" or engaging in language and reading at home before school, increases reading readiness.
2. Vocabulary, in its complex existence, is of  paramount importance for reading readiness.
3. Vocabulary can be developed by sharing books.
4. Early successful language activities, such as sharing stories, contribute to the prevention of reading difficulties in school.
5. A home life that includes positive experiences with reading and the library ensures positive attitudes for reading once in school.

Where does "1000 Books" Come From?
Most recently I've heard it's from an author's website. I never heard of this exact idea before I got into libraries (and I used to write professional development based on reading research). BUT, there is science behind the concept:
1,000 books every year? Are we doing a disservice with our library goal?
No, because:
1) Kids can easily finish their B4K goal when they sign up at age 3 or 4.
2) If they sign up earlier than that, the library is helping the family create a library routine that will last far past when they've reached their goal.

Ready to Start a 1000 B4K program at your library?
My supervisor has taken all the guesswork out of it by blogging about our experiences with the program and providing downloadable materials on the system library website.

You're welcome.


  1. Thanks for the links! I'll be using these as resources! We just started 10KBK last week and have already given out 100+ folders and at least one child has already completed 50 books. I'm keeping it simple - you go through the program, you "graduate", you're done but I've also told people they can keep going even if the kids go into kindergarten etc. and I've stretched the age limit for some older siblings who were five and wanted to participate. Just part of my ongoing campaign to get the people in my town to RELAX and stop worrying about all the "rules".

  2. No problem! Feel free to use any links and share them.

    Our program is pretty laid back as well. We also have a "graduation" but the library visits continue after the family completes the program. Good luck as your program grows-- we've had so much fun!

  3. I have been thinking about doing this for our library for the last few years. I am saving your ideas for when this "idea" becomes a reality for us! Thanks so much!

  4. This point: 2. Vocabulary, in its complex existence, is of paramount importance for reading readiness. no longer has a good link. Any idea where else we can get it, the name of the article &/or the authors?

  5. Thank for the heads up, Anonymous! It looks like you mean #3. I'll find a good link.

  6. My kids and I just started this challenge today! I'm beyond excited to do this with my children. Not only will it help them with speaking and reading, but it will help them make and reach goals.

  7. Say, 5 years later what are your thoughts on the 1000 books foundation and all their stuff for sale?

    1. Truly, I don't know much about the Foundation and its use of the funds, but I do dislike when people trademark a name that's a colloquialism or others does not specifically belong to them. Unsure if that's what they've done.