A to Z: 1,000 steps to child literacy

Throughout April, I’m tackling 26 A to Z topics related to children’s literature. Today is a catching up on the letter T with a look at the program 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. (Technically this could fall under O for One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten, but for the sake of fitting the letter and giving this awesome program some publicity, I’m going to slant the pronunciation to Thousand Books Before Kindergarten.)

Below are excerpts from a July 2015 blog post I previously wrote about this program.


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A child’s literacy development from birth through early elementary school can be a strong indicator of later life success, according to the 2012 study.

That’s why reading skills need to be developed long before children enter the classroom. That’s why literacy education needs to begin as soon as children exit the womb and enter the world.

1000BooksLogoThat’s why programs like 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten are awesome.

The program’s mission is to promote reading for newborns, infants, and toddlers, as well as promote bonding through reading.

I encountered 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten while researching an article about early childhood literacy for the local newspaper. The program is available nationally. Anyone can participate for free, with or without a local facility to sponsor.

The gist is this: Read 1,000 books to your child before kindergarten. From birth to the time school starts, just read a book from cover to cover. Repeats are allowed, so if your child wants to read “Are You My Mother?” 990 times and then 10 other books, you aren’t breaking any rules.

Reading one book a night is 365 in a year. In two years, that’s 730. Three years of daily reading would be 1,095, leaving you ahead of the game with two years to spare.

In June 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement promoting daily reading with children, beginning in infancy. The 1,000 Books program is a handy starting point and good incentive to keep parents on track.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten offers all of the resources a family needs on its website: program instructions (available in English and Spanish), reading log sheets, printouts for milestones (reaching 100 books, 200, 500, etc.), and a reading list suggesting books for youngsters.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is beautifully simple and horribly underrepresented (its Facebook page has about 2,566 likes; on Twitter, fewer than 850 followers).

It’s worth playing the role of Scheherazade to the children in our lives. She told 1,001 stories in 1,001 nights to save her life; surely, we can read 1,000 stories in 1,826 nights to improve our children’s academic (and lifelong) success.

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