Children who read reap massive benefits. Mental Floss lists six rewards: family bonding, intelligence, empathy, stress relief, better sleep, and brain stimulation. All of this goodness guarantees that adults who haven't crossed a library's threshold in years are likely to find the impetus to enter once they have a child of their own. You can support these parents in their quest to raise readers AND keep them coming back by launching a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten campaign. Read on to learn how to support the youngest readers in your community!

The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is simple. Parents plan that before their child starts kindergarten, they will read 1000 books together. Sounds lofty? Au contraire.

Read 1 book/day for a year = 365 books!

Read 1 book/day for 3 years= 1,095 books!

Even if parents never read a book to their child until age two, there's still plenty of time. But why wait? Reading books to your baby counts and reaps huge dividends.

Here's how to get started:

Choose a time to launch the program.

Make it an annual campaign and pick one time to commence each year. Any time can work but why not August? It gives younger siblings something to do while big brother or sister leaves for school.

Create the materials

LibraryAware customers can find an entire 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program kit with customizable reading log templates, signs, social media graphics, a certificate of completion, bookmarks and more. To see the full kit, search 1000 books in LibraryAware.

Advertise the program

Whether you use our kit or create your own, make flyers, widgets, and social media posts to advertise your program. Get the word out during storytimes and any events that draw a crowd. Slip bookmarks about the program into stacks of books during checkout.

Register those readers

Hold a registration period that lasts 2 weeks to a month. Give them a place to record all the books they enjoy with a reading log. The reading log doesn't have to be fancy; just provide a space for recording the name of the book and a way to count their progress!

Decide the level of support you will offer

While it's acceptable to just give them the packet and allow parents to manage it at home, the right campaign can keep them coming back. Consider offering rewards at each level of the journey. Read 100 books? Show us your log and get a sticker. Read 200 books? Get a bookmark. Think of 10 different rewards at a price point that is comfortable for your library's budget. Give parents clear parameters on how you will support the program and provide that information from the start.

Keep records

Gather statistics on how many kids sign up and how many come to collect rewards at different points. These numbers will help you evaluate how the program is doing and consider strategies for improvement.

Think big to see bigger results

The right messaging strategy can act as a foundation for a long-lasting relationship between parents and the local library. Think of ways you can support a harried-feeling parent. Gather 4-5 tips into an info packet to give parents when the kids sign up.

Some sample tips include:

  • Books read during storytime count, too! (paired with a storytime schedule)
  • Feeling bored with your home library? Choose one day a week to be library day! (suggest a day that intersects with storytime at your library)
  • We have grab-and-go book services! (Create a small flyer to let them know your offerings) 
  • Need book suggestions? Offer them reading lists. NoveList Recommended Reads lists (on the main page of NoveList) can provide great lists based on topics, feelings, and emotions, or interests like dancing, painting, and music.
  • Repeating readings count; re-reading favorite books benefits kids. They can learn the story, re-tell it back to you, and begin to make it their own.

Little tips like these can help place you as "experts" in a parent's eyes. 1000 books signup is also a great time to offer parents a chance to sign up for your youth services e-newsletter.

What's next?

Now that parents feel motivated to have their kids read 1000 books, help them find the right books. NoveList can help:

  • Use our genre helper "storytime standouts" to find tried-and-true stories that kids love: GN Storytime standouts.
  • NoveList themes can help find the right picture book for the right occasion. Use NoveList themes like starting school, power of stories, overcoming fear, feelings and emotions, and let's dance to make reading lists and displays. Use the field code TH to find a theme: TH Let's dance.
  • Use NoveList appeals like participatory, big and bold, and cartoony to find picture books that match different story and illustrations styles. Use the field code AP to find an appeal: AP big and bold.

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Lindsey Dunn is a Readers' Advisory Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading Year 0033 by J.M. Evans.