In August, the Loudoun County Public Library system kicked off a new initiative called “One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten.” “The idea is to literally ready 1,000 books before you reach kindergarten – it sounds like a lot – but what that does is it exposes you to all kinds of different worlds, people, animals, colors, shapes and ideas,” said the library system’s youth programming coordinator, April Shroeder. “And what that does is make you completely ready for kindergarten, which then prepares you for the rest of your education.”
“One Thousand Books Before Kindergarten” is an incentive program with rewards for those who measure their progress through the library. “It is our goal to assist all families and children with literacy,” Shroeder added.
So how does an infant get started on their 1,000-book assignment?
Books for Babies, of course…
Shroeder spoke at the recognition kicking off the 15th year of this partnership between Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) and Inova Loudoun Hospital on Wednesday, October 28th, at the LCPS Administrative Offices in Ashburn.
Books for Babies began as an idea by retired LCPS Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Sharon Ackerman in 1998. Ackerman secured $2,988 from the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) and $900 from Phi Delta Kappa (the international education fraternity) to help purchase 1,666 “Read to Your Bunny” books to be sent home with newborns at Inova Loudoun. In the following years, packets of books – in English and Spanish – have been sent home with newborns.
That’s a lot of books… (Inova Loudoun’s government and community relations liaison, Stacey Miller, estimated the hospital will be the site of 2,800 births next year.)
LCPS Outreach Supervisor Wendall Fisher noted how important this effort is. “Reading is a constant thing in our lives. Everything we have to do, we have to read; am I right?”
One of the program’s prime sponsors is Books-a-Million, which was represented by Guy Christman, general manager of its Dulles Town Center store. Throughout the year Books-a-Million asks customers to donate books for local schools and hospitals. “The generosity has been amazing. It shows how much the parents and customers (care)…The support has been amazing.”
Retired LCPS Head Start Coordinator Carol Basham gave a brief history of the Books for Babies program, which she helped Ackerman and LCPS Director of Elementary Education Mike Martin get off the ground.
Then it was time to read!
Students from Sanders Corner, Newton-Lee and Leesburg elementary schools showed off their reading talents. They read from selected works including “The Day the Crayons Came Home,” “But Excuse Me That Is My Book” and “You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You.”