The Edith B. Siegrist Vermillion Public Library started a new program this year. “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” is a program designed to encourage exposing children to reading and books prior to kindergarten. The program has 21 kids enrolled, and they have collectively read 1388 books so far this year.
Amanda Raiche is the Youth Services Librarian at the Vermillion Public Library and organizes the programming for newborns through teenagers, like the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program.
“Its source is the 1000 Books Foundation, but they created the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and really what it is, is a free program that any library can use,” Raiche said. “They have a lot of different resources and ideas for how you can run it, but it really is up to every library to create the program how they see fit.”
Raiche said parents can sign their child up for the program at any age before kindergarten and keep track of every book the child reads or is read to, including repeated books and books read to them during the public library’s virtual story time.
Parents can register their child through the Vermillion Public Library website and log the books their child reads at READsquared online or on a paper log. When a parent signs their child up they are given a free book bag and some early literacy learning tips for parents. For every 100 books read, the library provides the child with a sticker and the children can watch their progress on the “reading wall” at the library.
“At the end, once they reach 1000 books, they have completed the program, their name goes on a special spot of the wall, they get a certificate and a book,” Raiche said. “And then, assuming parents allow it, we would share their picture and name on our social media and newsletter to celebrate that they’ve completed it.”
Marcy Drew is a lecturer at USD’s School of Education. Drew has a her doctorate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in early childhood education. Drew said the goal of programs like the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is to motivate children’s joy in reading.
“There’s all the research and we know how reading affects brain development and language development and how they become good readers and writers, but I really think that parents can just start with ‘Let’s have fun and read together,’ whether it’s two minutes or 10 minutes,” Drew said.
Raiche said the program has worked well this year because the library isn’t able to hold in-person programming due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“I knew it would be a fun thing to bring here,” Raiche said. “We’re trying to do other things for kids and teens, like we’re trying to send home Take Home Kits and I’m doing Virtual Storytime, but I thought this was a great time to incorporate this program.”
“The more you expose your kids to the world of books, the more they’re going to have that positive feeling about reading,” Drew said.