1,000 Books Before Kindergarten: Choosing Our Strategy And Maya’s First Library Visit

By: Krystal Keagle

Maya loves identifying letters. This book was a fun find during her first visit to the library recently. Photo Supplied.

The thought of reading 1,000 books in three years can seem daunting — until you remember that it’s 1,000 children’s books.

I signed Maya up for the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at the Elkhart Public Library when she was about 5 months old. I downloaded the Beanstack app and started logging books when we read. The app also allows you to track pages and minutes read I thought that would be interesting information to have, so I started tracking those too.

Within a week, I stopped tracking pages and minutes. Within two weeks, I forgot to log books entirely. In my defense, I had a very active 5-month-old baby.

Now that Maya is 2 and reading is more consistent (as is sleep), my husband and I are fully committed to tracking books and completing 1,000 books before August 2027. This time, I’m being realistic and ONLY tracking books.

Choosing A Reading Strategy

There are a few different strategies to tackle reading 1,000 books:

  • Reading 1,000 books or reading sessions, including repeats
  • Reading 1,000 different books, not counting repeats
  • Tracking one book per day, no matter how many books you read that day
  • Tracking every single book you read in a day
  • Including picture books or board books, or intentionally excluding picture books or board books

There is no wrong way to approach the program. It’s truly what works best for you and your kiddo. And really, the whole point is just to build reading habits and get repeated exposure to different words.

When Sam documented his daughter Holly’s journey through 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, he and his wife counted reading sessions. They logged at least one book per session, including repeats. This allowed them to see what books Holly read the most. I think this is a great strategy, and they completed the program within about a year.

But because I’m also documenting this journey, I want to show a different experience to you, dear reader. For Maya, our strategy is to track 1,000 different books. That means we won’t count repeats, but we are counting picture books and board books. Even though there aren’t always words or sentences in those books, we always name the images and sometimes come up with short narratives for them. To me, that counts as reading since it’s still exposure to language.

As of the writing of this blog, Maya is officially past her first 100 books. We logged all the books on her bookshelf and have read all of them. We have a second bookshelf filled with books that are a little too long or advanced for her right now, and we’ll log those as we read them. I don’t know how long it will take us to complete 1,000 unique books, but we’re excited about the challenge.

Maya’s First Library Visit

Committing to 1,000 unique books is a big task, but that’s where the Elkhart Public Library comes in. Having access to thousands of books at the EPL’s five branches (plus more through interlibrary loans) will be super helpful.

Maya loved getting to play with blocks and toys at the library’s Children’s Room. Photo Supplied.

I took Maya for her first-ever library visit earlier this month. We needed new books to read, plus we needed to pick up the prizes she had earned so far in the Summer Reading Challenge (another good reason to encourage us to consistently track new books).

When she woke up that Saturday morning, I told her we were going to get new books at the library. She was so excited that she kept chanting “new books at the library” during our drive to the downtown location.

When she first walked into the Children’s Room, Maya made a beeline for the aquarium. She loves animals, especially fish and ducks. At one point, a little boy came over and told us the names of each fish, which Maya loved.

After the aquarium, we explored the rest of the Children’s Room. Maya loved playing with the LEGOs and puppet show toys while I picked out about a dozen new books for her. I chose some board books and a few longer books such as “Pete The Cat: The Five Little Ducks.”

Maya quickly developed favorites from the library books we brought home. Though we’ve read most of them multiple times, I’ve logged a new book (almost) every day since our visit so they count for both the Summer Reading Challenge and 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. The Beanstack app makes it easy to participate in both!

Every night, Maya looks through the orange bag containing our library books and chooses a few to read before bed. Her favorite book of this selection is a board book of the beloved children’s song “Baby Beluga” by Raffi. She calls it “the whale song” and asks for it multiple times per day.

Even though it’s only been about a week since her first visit, Maya is ready to return to the library. “Get new books again!” she told me the other night.

Hey, maybe it won’t take us so long to get to 1,000 books after all.