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Libraries Help Kids Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten


Published June 4, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated June 4, 2024 at 10:27 a.m.

A graduate of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is recognized at  Fletcher Free Library for his accomplishment. - COURTEY
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  • A graduate of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is recognized at Fletcher Free Library for his accomplishment.

Reading 1,000 books to your kids sounds daunting, but it's actually easier than you might expect according to Megan Estey Butterfield, youth librarian at Burlington's Fletcher Free Library.

"If you're reading at least one book with your child every day, then by the time they go to kindergarten, you will have read over 1,000 books with them. Reading 365 books a year adds up very quickly," Butterfield said.

Fletcher Free Library is one of 189 Vermont libraries that participate in the national 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. Each site develops its own approach and way of celebrating young patrons who reach the goal.

The Bennington Free Library has hosted the challenge for about 15 years; more than 50 children in Bennington County have completed it. Bennington's participating families receive a packet of materials and mark off 200 books at a time. When a child completes a milestone, they can visit the library for a sticker and a free book. Once the child has achieved the 1,000-book goal, they receive a certificate and can choose a book to have dedicated to them in the children's library.

Linda Donigan, Bennington's youth services librarian, attributes part of their success to working with other librarians in the county. "We develop the materials together, and we share ideas from our big library to the smaller libraries, like in Stamford and Readsboro," she said. In that community spirit, these libraries created their own Bennington County-specific logo and stickers.

Families can read multiple books per day, and they can log the same book multiple times, either through an analog method or an app, Donigan explained. "If you read the same book 20 times, it counts 20 times," she said.

Fletcher Free Library launched its effort in 2019. Butterfield had planned a kickoff event for March 18, 2020, that was canceled as a result of the pandemic. The program continues, however, and Butterfield said it's had a slow but promising start. Two children have made it to the goal so far.

She invited families who are feeling stuck and don't know what to read to come to the library and ask for one of the bags of librarian-selected children's books created for the program.

When a 4-year-old recently hit the 1,000-book mark, the library held a graduation ceremony for him. His father explained that, because of the pandemic, his son had spent a lot of his childhood "in hiding," and this was the first time he was celebrated for something publicly. "He bowed when he got his certificate, and he was really, really happy," his father said.

The proud dad said the bags of books allowed their family to take fewer trips to the library and read more, which was helpful when they went into lockdown in 2020. He would read his son at least three books a day and believes incorporating story time into their daily routine made a positive impact. "He isn't reading on his own yet, but he loves just looking at books," he said.

Find a list of participating Vermont libraries at

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