Helping children, 1,000 books at a time

Published 10:38 pm Monday, April 30, 2018

Starting Tuesday, parents and caregivers can visit Suffolk Public Libraries to help their young children get a head start in a 1,000-step challenge.

Suffolk Public Library has partnered with the 1,000 Books Foundation to offer enrollment in the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at all Suffolk Public Library locations. Children may also be enrolled at Library2Go mobile stops or online.

The 1,000 Books Foundation is a Nevada-based nonprofit that promotes reading habits in newborns, infants and toddlers through bonding opportunities with parents and caregivers.

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“Our goal is to provide a simple, innovative yet fun approach to establishing strong early literacy skills,” according to 1000booksbeforekindergarten.org. “We help young children gain the confidence necessary to become strong readers.”

Children can be enrolled as soon as they’re born and any time before they enroll in kindergarten. Each child will have a goal of reading at least 1,000 books before kindergarten, but they don’t have to read 1,000 different books.

“Kids love to reread their favorites, so caregivers can log the same book each time it is read,” according to the press release. Participants can also complete challenges like reading outside or visiting a library program.

Library staff are using Beanstack to track progress, the same online platform used in the recent Winter Reading Challenge held by software company Zoobean and “Shark Tank” billionaire investor Mark Cuban. Paper logs are also available upon request.

Participants will earn prizes as they reach reading milestones, and children that hit the 1,000-book mark will be invited to a graduation ceremony in August.

Youth and Family Services Manager Jennifer Brown said that any eligible child is welcome to join, even if they’re set for kindergarten this fall.

“You might have a really ambitious kid who reads 10 books a day,” Brown said in a phone interview.

Families can also make progress by participating in Suffolk Public Library classes and activities.

“If you come to ‘storytime,’ we will log the books for you,” Early Childhood Services Senior Librarian April Watkins said in a phone interview.

Brown explained that parents and caregivers can help their children by being their first teachers with reading activities at home.

“We’re really encouraging that interaction to set their kids up for success later on in school,” she said.

Visit 1000booksbeforekindergarten.org, suffolkpubliclibrary.com and facebook.com/SuffolkPublicLibrary to register online and other information.