Books are one of Chloe Leitmann-Morales’s favorite things. She sorts through the full shelf in her family’s Arlington County living room, pulling out her choices one after another, then settles comfortably on almost any nearby lap. She’s ready to listen and follow along as her father, mother or grandmother reads about Dora the Explorer, different kinds of bellies or the dog Blue, in both English and Spanish.
Chloe has “read” more than 1,000 books. She is 2 years old.
Chloe is the poster-child for a fantastic literacy programs starting in Arlington, VA. The Arlington Library System has recently started a “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten” campaign, encouraging children to read 1,000 books during their preschool years to fortify language skills, build vocabularies and lay the foundation for a lifelong love for literacy. What’s great is that it not only encourages reading and literacy, but it also relies on a strong network of family involvement. Because the children are often too young to read themselves, they are read to by their parents. This quality time strengths the bonds between parent and child, but reading aloud has an infinite number of benefits for children educational, and developmentally.
How does it work?
The library says everything counts — books read by family, story time at the library, e-books, rereading favorites — because it all adds up to language familiarity. The process is documented in reading logs that children are encouraged to keep and color, and participants receive stickers for every 100 books read.