Happy Birthday 1000 Books!

This month marks our third year of doing 1000 Books Before Kindergarten in La Crosse!!

It has been an amazingly fun journey.

Over 850 children have joined the program (in our community of 51K) and 172 have reached the 1000 books goal.

So far over 257,200 books (yes...over a quarter of a million!!)  have been read to kids in our community as a result of this program. 

Our program was built so it could evolve to adapt to how parents and children react to the materials and incentives. Here is how we've changed:

Materials: Our first recording sheet asked parents to write down every title read. Then it morphed to bookmarks with 100 seeds to mark off. It has settled comfortably into a sheet with seeds, ten lines for favorite titles to be recorded and little literacy tips on each sheet.

Incentives: Stickers are king and queen for the kids and their most treasured part of each return visit. Kids still receive a nursery rhyme fingerpuppet at 500 and a book on completion. When we first started our focus group encouraged us to give out  logo-infused incentives to parents at 300 (lanyard), 500 (window cling), 800 (fridge magnet) and 1000 (book bag) levels. We soon realized the parents didn't care. So now, the book bag is given out at sign-up and that is the most prized parental possession (as well as great advertisement for the program around the community!)

Inclusiveness: The program was designed for 1-5 year olds because we wanted the kids to realize the excitement of what was happening. But what about the babies?!?! Our new early literacy librarian Brooke Rasche came on board a year ago and immediately developed and wrote a grant to fund Baby Book Bees to dovetail into our garden themed 1000 Books. With their first 100 books read, graduate Bees have a head start by the time they join 1000 Books. We have 44 babies in this new program!

We continue to talk the programs up, include them on our program flyers and distribute posters to daycares and schools to alert families to what's available. It has been a win-win program for our community and is one that more and more libraries are adding.

If you have added a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program at your library, please let me know in the comments and I will make sure it gets pinned to my 1000 Books Pinterest board and get it on the google map. And if you are thinking of adding the program, please stop at this blog post for resources, history, research to support grant or funding requests and more!

2017 Update: Over 403.200 books have been read since the program's inception with 1,168 readers in 1000 Books and 194 readers in baby Book Bees. Moving towards half a million books. Go parents and kids!!


  1. That is very cool! Congratulations! Such an important program.

    1. Thanks Jen. We didn't invent this program but are proud to be part of what Sandie Krost invented. It gives me shivers to see how this wonderful program is spreading throughout the country!!

  2. We added a 1000 Books program at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY in January 2014. Our patrons love it--we've had around 250 children sign up and 75 have completed the first 100. Thanks for the great ideas and info on how your has program evolved!

  3. Congratulations! I attended your webinar on this great program last year and have since implemented it in our library system in Lee County, Florida. It’s only been going for about two months so far, but we have had so many great responses to it! Our favorite part is how versatile it is. Each of the 14 libraries in our system is doing something just a little different, as space, time and money allow. We’re really looking forward to seeing how the program grows and how many kids we will have reached by the time we turn three, too!

  4. We have it at the William Jeanes Memorial Library, in Lafayette Hill, PA, 19444. Our first child to reach 1,000 read to him is featured on our website, and we added a book to the collection in his name!
    Thanks for promoting this wonderful program!

  5. How do you make 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten work seamlessly with SRP book logging? Suggestions?

  6. We actually had 2 separate spread sheets - one for each program and toggled between them. It was pretty easy and worked well for our community (50K population).