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Parents of pre-K kids take the 1,000 Book challenge

Beth Allo completed the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Beth Allo completed the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge with her daughter Lily at Center Moriches Public Library. Photo Credit: Center Moriches Public Library

School-age kids have headed back to the classroom — but those too young for kindergarten aren’t off the hook. They’ve got some homework to do as well.

The nationwide 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative urges parents to read 1,000 books to their children before they start their academic careers.

Various libraries across Long Island are participating in the movement, offering incentives such as stickers or free books to children as they tick off 100, 200, 300 books and more. (If a child has a favorite book, each time it is read counts.) And if the local library isn’t officially working on the program, parents can find charts and more at 1000booksbeforekindergarten.org.

“My husband and I are both teachers, so we understand the importance of reading to your child each day from a young age,” says Beth Allo, 32, of Mastic, an elementary school special education teacher who has already completed the program through the Center Moriches Free Public Library with her 21-month-old daughter, Lily. “I just think it’s important to create a lifetime reader. She will play with books now, turn the pages.” Lily’s favorite book: “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”

Loren Darzano, 38, of East Moriches, also completed the program with her children, Logan, 5, and Kate, 2. She wanted to finish before Logan began kindergarten this fall. It took her about 10 months, she says, and Logan loved filling in the sheets and handing them in to the Center Moriches library, Darzano says. The library made it easy to complete the program by providing packets of 10 books by theme — bears or dinosaurs or fire trucks, for instance.

“I saw her vocabulary just explode,” Darzano says of Kate. “With 1,000 books, there were a lot of words she was introduced to in context.”

Jessikah Chautin, children’s librarian at Syosset Public Library, says she’s hoping to launch the program at her library by the end of this month. She says parents should be able to easily complete the program even if they only read one book a day at bedtime. “It’s a lot less intimidating than it sounds when you see the words ‘one thousand books,’ ” she says.

Library Card Sign-up Month

September is the annual Library Card Sign-up Month. Since 1987, the American Library Association has made the push each September. It purposely coincides with the beginning of the school year, says Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System. “It’s just a way to publicize and make sure people have their library cards so they can take advantage of all the great stuff at their public library,” Verbesey says.

— BETH WHITEHOUSE

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