Since we at Johnson Creek Public Library first started our “1000 Books before Kindergarten” program in June of 2013, I have received many requests for information from librarians wanting to start the program at their library. I did the same when I first started thinking about “1000 Books.” I researched what other libraries throughout Wisconsin and the country were doing and contacted several librarians to get more specific information. (I apologize for not remembering their names!) I quickly discovered that one of the biggest advantages to “1000 Books” is that each of us can tailor it to our needs. Those needs, of course, are based (usually) on time and money.
As I reply to different queries from other librarians about “1000 Books,” I always warn them (forlack of a better word) that they need to think of this as a minimum of a five-year commitment. If we sign up babies (some libraries do, some don’t) then we can assume that it could take the parent or caregiver up to five years to complete the program. In the 16 months since we started our “1000 Books” program we have registered 122 children and of those, 7 have moved away and 6 children have completed the program. Of those six children, four of them are only children and one of them is an “only child” during the day when her older sibling is in school. It took these families only a few months to finish “1000 Books.” We have many other families working towards that goal but it could take some children a year or more to finish the program. Conceivably, it could take a child five years! There is no way that I would ever want to tell a five year old, soon to start kindergarten, and his parents that we no longer have a “1000 Books before Kindergarten” program!
“1000 Books before Kindergarten” is a great program. I recommend it highly to any library, any size, any shape. You can adapt it to your situation! We can never stress the importance of early literacy too much. However, before you commit, ask yourself this question: Do we have the time and the money to keep this program going for five years and keep it fresh, exciting, and vital? If the answer is yes, go for it! If the answer is no, don’t feel bad. Adapt the program to what you can afford, both time and money wise.
Luci Bledsoe, Director
Johnson Creek Public Library, Johnson Creek, WI
Images provided by the author