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Growing new readers with the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge

Posted On: November 5, 2021

For young, developing minds, reading is the foundation of all learning.

Reading improves vocabulary and language skills, stimulates a sense of imagination and discovery and helps teach children about the world around them. In fact, it’s proven that early reading leads to higher success and academic achievement.

“Numerous studies have shown that children with well-developed early literacy skills have greater success in reading and all other areas of academics,” said Mary Lane, a youth services librarian at Volusia County’s Deltona Regional Library. “Reading with your child is also a strong bonding experience – one that parents and caregivers will cherish as much as the child.”

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And that’s why it’s so important to instill a love of reading in children at a very young age – even right after birth – by reading aloud to them. And that’s also the inspiration behind Volusia County Library Services’ updated launch of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Designed to give preschoolers a head start on reading skills, 1000 Books is a self-paced, early literacy program for children from birth through age 6 that helps build reading confidence and promotes the pre-reading skills necessary for kindergarten.

The focal point of the program is a goal – really, a challenge – for you and your child to read 1,000 books before kindergarten. Parents and caregivers can sign up their child for the program online, from the comfort of their home, smart phone or tablet. After signing up, you can log and track your child’s reading online as they reach milestones along the way. Every book you read together counts towards the goal and you can read the same book as many times as you like. For instance, if your child has a favorite bedtime story, you can count it each time you read the book. You can also count the books your child hears at story time or at preschool.

Volusia County Library Services will celebrate your child’s progress in the program with virtual badges for every 10 books read, a personalized certificate and a commemorative reading medal for reaching the 500-book milestone and a personalized certificate and a commemorative reading trophy for completing the challenge.

Now 1,000 books sounds like a lot, and it is. But think of it this way: You and your child can complete the challenge in three years by reading one book a day or in just one year by reading three books a day. And with Library Services’ help and encouragement, your child will be developing positive skills and educational habits that will last a lifetime.

“Encouraging literacy, especially early literacy, is an important component of libraries,” according to Kate Sprague, a youth services librarian at the county's DeLand Regional Library. “For caregivers, reading aloud with their child creates a greater bonding experience. This shared time together strengthens the relationship between parent and child and also helps to create the routine of reading aloud and sharing books with your child that will continue long after the thousand books have been read.”

alt text1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a national program that started in 2013. As far as Volusia County Library Services’ participation goes, this actually is more of a relaunch. Volusia County first began participating in 2015. Since then, 169 children have completed the program – that’s a whopping 169,000 books! And approximately 100 more children  are still actively participating in the program. Volusia County’s re-launch, which includes an updated look, new online tracking tools and a focus on children right from birth, is an effort to increase awareness about the program and boost participation. Some of the program materials are also available in Spanish.

Volusia County’s library children’s section heads, who helped revitalize and refresh the program, say they’ve seen the benefits of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten first-hand.

“I’m thrilled that Library Services is able to offer this important program for our Volusia County families,” said Lauren Bridges, a youth services librarian at the county's Port Orange Regional Library. “I’m so proud to see the success of children who are enrolled in the program and I look forward to seeing even more children benefit from participating. The feedback from parents and caregivers of how the program helped their children be better prepared for kindergarten is affirming that it is a vital service to offer.”

Added Debra Robbins, a youth services librarian at the county’s New Smyrna Beach Regional Library: “I’m so excited to share the library’s newly rebranded 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program with caregivers and children. They will love everything about it!”

To sign up for the program, visit us online at www.volusialibrary.org, or go directly to https://volusialibrary.beanstack.org/reader365.

alt textYou can also come into one of our libraries and the staff there will be happy to guide you through the registration process. Once you sign up, you can track your child’s reading through your account page or by downloading the Beanstack tracker app. After registering, starter kits with a commemorative badge book and stickers can be picked up at any library branch in the county. It’s as easy as that.

Need suggestions for a great book to get you and your child started? Caregivers can subscribe to the library’s monthly 1000 books newsletter. Or come in to one of our libraries and ask a youth services staff member for an age-appropriate suggestion.

So why not enroll and get started today reading with your child. After all, a journey of 1,000 books starts with the first book!

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