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Library Encourages Reading 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Aug 04, 2016 03:03PM ● Published by Tori LaRue

Michelle Misener reads to her sons Geyson, 3, and Logan, 1, at the South Jordan Library. –Tori La Rue

Gallery: Library Encourages Reading 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


Amy Cannon, who has a master’s degree in library science, and her husband, who works in a library, sought to teach their children Henry, 5, and Eloise, 3, to love reading as much as they do.

“We both started reading to them the day they were born,” Cannon said. “We never wanted to put it off because books are so important to help kids learn. Now we can’t get them to stop.”

Librarians at the South Jordan library introduced the Cannons to Salt Lake County Library Service’s read 1,000 books before kindergarten program in January, and Cannon said that only increased their drive to read.

“A program helps you to have a focus and make it a priority,” Cannon said. “It’s wonderful to have a way to track their reading, so they can look and see which books they have read. I let Henry write the books himself on the tracker, and it helps him practice his writing, too.”

Henry will start Kindergarten in August, having read more than 1,000 books before receiving any public schooling. Amy anticipates that Eloise will reach that goal, too. The Cannon family is joining in the nation-wide movement to encourage early literacy and parent-child bonding through reading 1,000 books before kindergarten.

The 1,000 Books Foundation, which created the 1,000 books before kindergarten initiative, originally started in Nevada. Through the web and word of mouth, the foundation’s message spread, and libraries began adapting the program to meet the needs of the people in their areas. All 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Virgin Islands and parts of Canada now have their own versions of the program.

Salt Lake County Library Services unleashed their version of the program earlier this year, and the Taylorsville Library has been distributing small folders containing a reading tackers and the program’s information to patrons with children who have not reached Kindergarten age since the end of January. Since the implementation of the program, more than 150 families have started the program, according to Elizabeth Weaver, a youth services librarian.

“Most parents think it is fun, different, and a good way to keep track of their little one’s favorite books,” Weaver said. “I haven’t heard anyone freaking out about the number of books being too high because they realize that if you do three books a day, it will only take you about a year to finish. Most people think it is doable and easy.”

Each reading tracker contains a slot for 100 book titles. Reading a new book, re-reading books and singing and telling stories count as a write-in on the reading tracker. After a sheet is completed, patrons bring it to the library where librarians will stamp it, and give them a new tracker. Once ten trackers are filled out, the child and parent receive a special certificate. A few parent-child duos have reached 300 books already, but no one at the Taylorsville Library has completed the entire program. The first reader to complete the program through the Kearns library finished the first week of July.

“Reading at an early age develops language skills and builds self-confidence,” Weaver said. “Studies show that children with more exposure to words before Kindergarten do better in school, and they are ready to read and pick up on reading quickly. When you read with your kid, it creates bonding time, and you set a foundation for learning to love to learn.”

The program is designed for parents to read with their children. Children who don’t like to read could benefit from participating in the program because Weaver said from her experience that if parents show interest in reading, their children will too.

Stop into any Salt Lake County Library location or visit slcolibrary.org for more information.  

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