In January, Kalamazoo Public Library started a program that challenges kids, and their parents or mentors, to read 1,000 books together before they start kindergarten.
About 370 children have signed up for the program so far and nine have made it to a thousand.
A thousand books may seem like a daunting task to some parents, but Kalamazoo Public Library Children’s Programming Librarian Andrea Vernola says it doesn’t have to be.
“It can be the same book over and over. We know kids that like to repeat books, which is great for them for learning to read and that’s fine. We know that babies will look at a book and sometimes just want to look at the pictures,” she says.
“There’s all different ways to share books with kids, so all of that counts.”
Vernola says kids in the program aren’t even required to finish all 1,000 books. It’s supposed to be a fun, self-paced program that encourages kids and their parents or mentors to read together. But Vernola says the goal isn’t ridiculous.
“If you read a couple books a day for even a year, you’d have 900 books,” she says.
Even newborns can get involved. Vernola says talking to your baby is really good for them. It builds their future vocabulary and knowledge of reading.
Vernola says reading with your kids, no matter what age, is also great family bonding time. It lets parents take a break while helping their child get ready for school.
The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is not new to libraries. Vernola says it’s a great way to get young kids familiar with the library system and to feel comfortable asking librarians questions. Vernola says kids who are read to have bigger vocabularies generally and this helps them while learning to read. They are more able to sound words out.
“They understand sounds, you know, sort of phonetic awareness type of thing. They know how to open a book,” she says. “Like all of that just prepares them for really learning to read on their own.”
Learn more about 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten through our friends at Southwest Michigan Second Wave.