With a consistent calendar of story times and an annual Summer Reading program, it’s easy to think of the Northbrook Public Library as a place for kids to hone their reading skills. On Thursday, October 19, the library is adding to their repertoire by launching a new program in order to become an active part of early literacy within the community.
1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a national initiative that is open to all children—babies, toddlers, and preschoolers—who have not yet entered kindergarten. Parents and caregivers simply read any book to their child and it counts toward the 1,000 book benchmark. The ultimate goal of the program is to establish strong literacy skills at an early age, with the library on call to help parents and caregivers every step of the way.
“What we hope the program does is habituate reading, for kids but also for their parents” said children’s librarian Anna Fillmore. “Doing literacy activities now helps the language centers in the brain develop so a child becomes a confident reader in the future.”
While reading 1,000 books may sound like an intimidating challenge, Fillmore said the breakdown is much more manageable than it seems. Reading one book a night for a year will amount to 365 books; in three years, kids will have reached 1,095.
“Most kids want books repeated, and that’s actually really healthy for their development,” said Fillmore “If your child has a favorite book, you might be reading that book 50 times in the course of a year, and all of those count toward [the 1,000 Books program].”
Fillmore also added that the challenge doesn’t fall on just one person in the child’s life.
“It’s not just one person reading 1,000 books. It’s Grandma reading a book with her grandchild. It’s going to story time at the library. It’s caregivers reading with children during the day,” said Fillmore. “Everyone does a little bit to contribute.”
At the October 19 kickoff event, families will be able to sign up for the 1,000 Books program and get additional tools from library staff, such as books lists and suggested literacy activities, that will take the guesswork out of participating in the program.
“We want the community to use our librarians as resources,” said Fillmore. “The questions we love to get more than anything are things like ‘I have a three year old that really loves dinosaurs; what can you recommend?’ We’re hoping that once children are in this program, they’ll get exposed to the diverse selection of books we have for their age group.”
To celebrate the new program, beloved children’s musician Jim Gill will put on a special performance at 10:00am on Thursday, October 19, followed by fun hands-on activities. After its inaugural year, the kickoff celebration will become an annual event where participants will be recognized for their achievements in the program, whether they have read 100 books or 1,000.
No matter if it takes families three months or three years to reach 1,000 books, Fillmore believes the program is an invaluable addition to any home with young children.
“Having that many books read to you at that age is such an enriching experience,” said Fillmore. “It will absolutely change your life.”