As my little ones and I are finishing up our 1000 Books Before Kindergarten journey, my son’s first day of kindergarten is fast approaching. He’s going to be riding a new bus to a new school where he’ll have new teachers and classmates. While it is a rather bittersweet feeling contemplating what this achievement marks, we found a fun way to establish a solid reading routine and an interest in books.
Getting Ready for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge
The 1000 Books Foundation created the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge to promote early literacy skills in children ages five and under:
The concept is simple, the rewards are priceless. Read a book (any book) to your newborn, infant, and/or toddler. The goal is to have read 1,000 books (yes you can repeat books) before your precious one starts kindergarten.
Their website is full of resources to help you find a nearby program, create your own program, track your progress, and celebrate milestones.
Now, we’re no strangers to reading challenges. I started doing my library’s summer reading challenges when my son was an infant. So for the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge, I armed myself as usual with my Richland Library card and increased the number of tote bags I brought to carry books. When scouring the library bookshelves wasn’t a logistical option, I would request books to be put on hold for a quick pickup. To ensure I was making the most of my browsing time and on track towards the ultimate goal of 1000 books, I would set smaller reading goals for each week and track them in a Google spreadsheet.
We read three new books, in addition to our regular bedtime stories, on school nights. On weekends and school breaks, we would incorporate a daytime storytime of three to five books, in addition to our nighttime one. Sometimes after a really good storytime, one or both of my kids would grab another book to read. Sometimes they grabbed another book just to stay up a little longer before bed, but they rarely made it to the end without falling asleep.
Figuring Out What to Read
When my children were infants and toddlers, I mostly read books with rhyming text about pre-kindergarten skills like counting, learning the alphabet, and identifying colors and shapes. As my children began to develop a curiosity toward books and imitate the way I read them, I started to expand my selection criterion. The books we read began to reflect their interests and expand on their lived experiences like learning to dress themselves or going to the movies for the first time. I even snuck in a few picture books on things that I liked or wanted to learn more about but didn’t have the time.
Here’s a list of the topics and themes that helped us achieve an expansive reading assortment:
- Months of the Year
- Classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes
- Twists on classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes
- Different Cultures
- Children’s interests (mine love dinosaurs, unicorns, and most recently, octopuses)
- Favorite foods
- Life experiences (potty training, going to the beach, etc.)
- Nonfiction about children’s interests (ex. how crayons are made)
Bringing the Adventure Out of a Book
While my son was in pre-kindergarten, his class would read a new picture book each month that would be the theme for that month’s learning activities. I used that as my inspiration to get him and my daughter more interested in books.
With the help of Pinterest, I created some of our favorite book-themed activities we did over the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge:
- Pizza: Made mini pizzas from canned biscuits
- Bubbles: Played with large dollar store bubble wands
- Donuts: Decorated mini donuts
- Chalk Art: Created chalk drawings on the driveway
- Galaxy: Invented “galaxy” toast with sprinkles and food-colored yogurt
The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge was a test of consistency and creativity for me. However, for my little ones, it was a booked-filled adventure that I hope laid the foundation for their future love of books and reading.