Get Started With 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Mother reading a book with her daughterStarted through a grassroots effort at the Bremen Public Library in Bremen, IN several years ago, 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten has gained a firm foothold nationwide. Perhaps you’ve considered starting a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at your library but are worried about whether you have the time and resources to take on a new initiative.

Fortunately, the 1,000 Books program can easily be adapted to fit your needs and resources, and it integrates well with any other early literacy programs you’re already running. For example, storytimes can work seamlessly with 1,000 Books. Each book a child listens to during storytime can be counted toward the child’s 1,000-book goal.

A 1,000 Books program can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. You’ll need to decide how to register and track participants, how participants can track the books they read, what incentives you will offer, and how you will recognize graduates (perhaps a library Wall of Fame featuring graduates’ photos). You can choose to keep the program as simple as having tracking sheets available at the circulation desk and giving children a sticker (an easy, low-cost, and popular incentive!) for every 100 books read. After the initial setup, the program requires minimal staffing and time to sustain itself.

To make setup even easier, Meg Scheibel, Head of the Children’s Department at Booth and Dimock Memorial Library in Coventry, CT has teamed up with Upstart to provide a step-by-step start-up guide for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. You can download the guide, handouts for parents and outreach materials—all for free.

Once you’ve set up the program, parents and caregivers are active participants in the program as they read to their children at home or at the library. One thousand books might seem like a daunting number, but remind parents that if they read just one book a night with their child, they can finish the program in three years. Both children and their caregivers will experience a sense of accomplishment and reap the rewards for a lifetime.


Liz Bowie

Liz Bowie

Marketing Content Manager at Demco, Inc.
Liz is the Marketing Content Manager for Demco. Her background includes editorial management and product development of innovative and time-saving tools for schools and libraries, with an emphasis on Common Core, literacy and math. The products she and her team have developed, including classroom games, learning centers and professional development resources, have garnered 46 industry awards for excellence in education. Liz is passionate about promoting literacy through her work and the work of others. If you are interested in sharing your ideas and programming tips on Demco’s Ideas and Inspiration blog or have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, contact Liz at