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1,000 books before kindergarten

Library celebrates kids who were up to a reading challenge

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: The Moorestown Library celebrated children and families who participated in this year’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge with an annual party on Sept. 6.

The Moorestown Library honored children and families who completed the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge with an annual celebration on Sept. 6.

“1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a national program that lots of libraries do and each library does it a little bit different,” said Jen Dunne, head of youth services for the library. “Here at our library, we started about seven years ago and we give the kids milestone prizes.”

For every 250 books, 500 books and 750 books read, kids get prizes, followed by a celebration after 1,000 books.

“Each child gets a backpack with a T-shirt and a folder and a certificate and a book,” Dunne said. “They get balloons and we just celebrate the whole family, because the whole family participates in getting them to this milestone.”

Children of any age pre-kindergarten can participate; twenty of them completed the challenge this year. 

“Over the years, we usually get about 20 (children) who complete the program, but we’ve had probably around 800 who have signed up over the years,” Dunne noted. “We have children as young as birth who are signed up, and then in five years, they’ll complete the challenge.”

“Even sometimes they find out just a few months before kindergarten about the program, and they barrel through, and they’ll complete the challenge in just a couple months,” she added.

Dunne described seeing the children’s excitement about the challenge.

“It is so amazing because you see them from the time that they’re very small working toward this very big goal, and you see the support that the whole family puts behind them,” she said. “Every time they come in to pick up one of their milestone prizes, it’s a celebration in the library.”

“ … We really encourage them to keep going, and one of our goals is to make the children and the families really feel like they’re prepared for kindergarten and they’re ready,” Dunne added. 

“They already have a huge accomplishment under their belt, and they’re ready for all the challenges of kindergarten.”

Dunne admires how the program is designed for the whole family and explained why she believes 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is important for children.

“ … We get to see all the different people who are important in a child’s life and important in helping them develop as a reader come into the library, pick out books with them, read with them … so it’s really neat to see the whole little village that surrounds a child come together to support them in that goal,” she said.

“I think, especially now with COVID, a lot of the children haven’t had the opportunity to go to preschool or maybe have as much time out in the world and different experiences that we like to give to children,” Dunne added. “So this is a way that they could really broaden their horizons through reading and to feel really prepared, so when a child has the opportunity to go to preschool, I think that really helps them feel prepared.”

For more information on children’s programs, visit www.moorestown library.org.

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