1000 Books Before Kindergarten

graphic illustration of planets and stars with text stating 1000 books before kindergarten

1000 Books Before Kindergarten (1BBK) is a free literacy program for newborns, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. The goal? Read 1000 books with your little one before they start Kindergarten. Take BPL's 1000 Books pledge—and we'll be your cheerleaders along the way. 1BBK can help your little one develop a love of reading, provides you with opportunities to bond, and helps your child develop the early literacy skills they need for success later in life.

Track your progress by picking up a FREE 1000 Books chart in our branches, or use the stay-at-home version that you can print and colour yourself. Download our letter-size poster with 100 stars per page in the Related Links below to get started. If you don't have access to a printer, try digitally colouring or marking the stars using any graphic or drawing program (even MS Paint works for this!). Remember, you can repeat books as many times as you want, and virtual storytimes and audiobooks count, too. When you've finished all 1000 books, download and print the certificate below to celebrate!

Because your child’s learning starts at birth! Did you know:

  • By age 3, a child’s brain has reached 80 percent of its adult volume.
  • The brain develops most rapidly during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.
  • A toddler’s brain creates up to two million new connections every second.
  • Early experiences and interactions are key factor in a child’s brain development. According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, “early exposure to language—whether through books, words, or songs—can help prevent problems and promote health." (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2016)
  • A child’s ability to learn language skills is greatest before the age of 6.
  • Early literacy skills have a lifelong impact on educational, social, and occupational successes.
  • Being read to during early childhood is a predictor of school readiness & success.

(1000 Books Foundation, 2017)

Research shows that shared reading is the single most important activity you can do you’re your child(ren) to help them get ready to read
(Ghoting, S. & Martin-Diaz, P., 2013). 1BBK offers you an intentional way to incorporate shared reading experiences into everyday life.

Shared reading is so important because it helps your child:

  • Develop a habit of reading.
  • Create positive reading experiences (which allows them to experience the joy of reading. When reading is a joyful experience, children become lifelong readers!)
  • Develop confidence.
  • Experience warm and nurturing interactions with adults they care about.
  • Bond with their family (shared reading experiences can be a whole family affair—with parents, caregivers, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, pets, stuffed animals, etc.)

Three easy steps:

1. Pick up a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten tracker
Visit any of our seven branches to pick up your 1000 Books Before Kindergarten tracker. Use the tracker to keep track of the books you read together—the number will grow as your child grows. All children in your family from birth to just before Kindergarten can get a tracker.

2. Read and track (& repeat)
Every time you read a book with your child, colour in a star on your tracker. Repeat, repeat, repeat (until you’ve reached 1000 books)!

3. Celebrate!
Once you’re reached 1000 books, celebrate that achievement!

The Math

Does reading 1000 books before your child reaches kindergarten sound intimidating? You can easily reach this milestone by establishing a daily reading habit. How fast you reach it is up to you. You can read one book or multiple books each day—it’s up to you.

  • 3 books a day for 1 year = 1,095 books
  • 1 book a day for 3 years = 1,095 books

Q: How do I sign up?

Drop by any BPL branch to pick up the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten tracker. You and your child can start participating as soon as they are born all the way up until they enter Kindergarten. Tip: Display your tracker somewhere in your home that is highly visibly and where everyone in your family can see it. Once you have your tracker, choose a few books and start reading them with your child.

Q: Do we have to keep track of the titles of each book we read?

You can keep a list of the title and author of the books you read if you want but it is not required. There is also a free 1000 Books Before Kindergarten app you can download to track your titles, if you wish.

Q: Can we count books that we have read more than once?

Yes, absolutely. If you have read Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown 5 times—even if read in the past—count that as 5 books.

Q: Is there a required reading list?

Your child and you choose which books to read… any book in any language counts. If you’re looking for suggestions, ask staff for recommendations next time you’re at the library, and explore curated Staff Lists in the links below.

Q: What if my child is already in school?

1BBK is designed specifically for children who are not yet in school. While your school-aged child is not eligible for the tracker, you can absolutely set a goal with them to read 1000 books (or more).

Q: Can we count books that have been read to my child by someone else (for example, a librarian, babysitter, sibling, etc.)?

Any book that has been read to your child counts.

Q: Is 1000 1BBK compatible with the library’s Summer Reading Club?

The time you spend reading books for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten counts towards your Summer Reading Club goal.

Q: My child likes to move and won’t sit for an entire story. Does it still count?

Yes! Children need to move and explore the world around them—it’s how they learn. Young children have varying attention spans and sometimes certain books just don’t capture their attention. You can keep reading while they move or simply count it as read even if you have not finished the entire book. Tip: Try reading interactive books or books that require the reader to participate.

Q: What else can I do (at the library) to help my child get ready for reading?

In addition to reading books daily with your child, you can (see Related Links below):

  • Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play at home every day
  • Play with your child in our children’s areas
  • Attend a library storytime
  • Attend our other programs for young children

Q: Do you have any tips on how to read books with my child or what type of books to choose?

Here are some of the things you can do with books, borrowed from Mind in the Making by Ellan Galinsky (2010).

With infants and toddlers:

  • Choose books that young children can’t harm when they put them in their mouths
  • Encourage your baby to explore books: touching, opening, turning pages, chewing books all count!
  • Talk about the pictures
  • Choose books that have rhymes, repetition, and catchy refrains
  • Create routines for family storytime (such as at bedtime)

With preschoolers:

  • Use books as conversation starters—ask your child what they think the characters might be feeling or thinking.
  • Ask what and why questions – they are wonderful prompts for discussion
  • Encourage your child to ask questions about the stories
  • Choose stories whose themes interest or resonate with your child
  • Choose books that have rhymes, repetition, and catchy refrains. If there is a rhyme in the book, ask your child if they can think of other words that sound like that word (for example, hat, mat, sat, bat, cat, etc.)

With all children:

  • Know that reading with your child is what matters!

Download 1000 Books Before Kindergarten (outline)

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Download 1000 Books Before Kindergarten CERTIFICATE

Download 1000 Books Before Kindergarten CERTIFICATE for shared reading

Explore all Staff Picks booklists for kids

1000 Books Before Kindergarten app information