Reading challenges have become increasingly popular (and even here at NoveList, we’ve joined in on the fun). But perhaps the most crucial of all the challenges out there today is 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. The premise is simple: read a book — any book — to your child with the goal of reaching 1000 books before kindergarten and building lifelong readers.  

Pondering how best to refresh, build up, or promote your collection of board and picture books to support caregivers and early readers? We’ve got some suggestions. 

Award winners 

Award winners are one of the easiest places to start. With long-standing annual awards like the Caldecott Medal, you can make sure your library has the classics. With the Coretta Scott King Awards, you’ll get both great stories and visually appealing illustrations from African American authors and illustrators. And programs like Australia’s Aurealis Awards or the Schneider Family Book Awards (which convey the experiences of people with disabilities) provide both mirrors and windows for eager young children.  

In Core Collections, you can easily find award winners by typing the name of the award in the Advanced Search and selecting AW Award winner from the drop-down. To cast a wider net, simply follow the awards link on the homepage, which will return only books that have won awards or honors. With either search, you can then narrow your results to children’s books by using the limiter on the left and selecting Children’s Core Collection or by using the grade level limiter to limit to PreK. 

Essential titles 

Once you’ve got all the award winners you need, it’s time to check that you’re not missing any other great books. Core Collections provides an easy way for you to find them — just search for the highest recommendation level (Essential, using the search code RM 1), then limit to the Core Collection you need, like Children’s Core Collection, or by grade level if you want more granularity. And if you still need more on a particular topic, try expanding your search past Essential titles to the Recommended ones (RM 2) — these are also great titles, but we know that libraries have space and budget constraints and can’t buy everything. (If you’re ever in doubt about what the different levels mean, there’s a Collection Development Policy and Recommendations Level document right there on the Core Collections homepage.) 

Keep in mind, too, that libraries can upload their local collections to quickly check to see which of these great books are in their collections — or are missing.  

Promote your collection

Now that you’ve got a great collection, your next step is to create the materials to promote it. LibraryAware customers can find a complete 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. 

Now, advertise your program. Whether you use our kit or create your own, use flyers, widgets, and social media posts to advertise your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Get the word out during storytimes and any other events that draw a crowd of kids or caregivers, and slip bookmarks about the program into stacks of books during checkout.  

Bilingual books and your Spanish-speaking community 

We know that not all early readers speak English as their first language — and for some for whom it is their first language, they may be headed to a Spanish immersion kindergarten. You can use Core Collection en Español, our newest database, to find bilingual picture books and books in Spanish for your tiniest library patrons. Reach out to your sales rep to learn more!

Want to give building a microcollection a try?

 Ask for more information about Core Collections and explore all it has to offer. 

Shauna Griffin is a Senior Collection Development Librarian at NoveList. She is currently reading This Is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch: The Joy of Loving Something – Anything – Like Your Life Depends On It by Tabitha Carvan.