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The other day, my son was telling a relative something and he used the word “astonishing.” I made a mental note of it, being very proud of his vocabulary, and trying to remember the last book we read where he might have seen the word “astonishing.” I could not. We read so many books.


For the first time, I am posting every day for a month.

Other people present noticed he used the word as well, and seemed impressed.

It is astonishing when an eight-year-old uses the word “astonishing” in casual conversation, don’t you think? And I can only attribute that to our reading 1,000 books before kindergarten and about 30 minutes a day since their second week of life. Add to that turning off the TV and limiting screen time to only 30 minutes a day (usually YouTube videos or DVDs) and you have a recipe for building vocabulary.   Continue reading »

We read so many books, I am astonished that we can keep up with them all in terms of not being late at the library. We have a big basket and all the library books go in there. When we are done reading them, they go in the basket. If the kids take the books to other rooms, we usually lose them. I have had to do a frantic search around the house when they become due. But that has only happened three times, I think.

Why is vocabulary so important? It is the top predictor of future success in the lives of children. Some researchers would say it is the only predictor of success for later in life. No amount of money or early intervention programs or expensive preschools or any other factor plays a role as much as the amount of words a child hears in childhood.

As a side note, bilingual or multilingual children have a clear advantage here, because for every word a monolingual child speaks, the bilingual knows two. A trilingual child knows three and so on. Another language doubles the vocabulary and the odds of future success.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

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What if you did not have to pay for college because your child got really high SAT scores? What if I told you all you needed to do is spend 20 minutes of your time every day reading to your child since birth until way into the teen years? By the way, it’s never too late to start.  Continue reading »

In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease presents research which identifies reading to your children as an important factor in their preparation for attending college on an academic scholarship. Now that’s food for thought.

Read Aloud Handbook Cover

This summer, I have found an interesting website: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. They are actually a non-profit organization, out of Nevada, dedicated to literacy. Besides inspiring articles about the power of reading aloud to your babies, toddlers and preschoolers, the website contains some tools for you to accomplish this worthy goal:

  • log sheets so you can record your 1,000 books as you read them to your children
  • location and contact information for your local library, in case they have partnered with this company to run the program locally
  • the rules – it’s not necessarily 1,000 different titles; you can read the same book twice and it counts as two books, for instance

This site was the impetus I needed to finally catalog our books and our reading efforts. I started keeping track of the library books we check out since May: I started out by writing down the book title and author and a few other details, but that got old after a while. I like busy work only up to a point. I ended up putting a sheet protector in my son’s First Grade Reading binder and I slide our library receipts in it as soon as we get a new receipt.

As I filled out the log sheets for my children, I came to the conclusion that we may have read 1,000 different titles before my son started kindergarten at home last fall. Here’s the math:

  • 335 English children’s books we own in our library (I KNOW we read them all, each at least five times)
  • 50 children’s books we own in Romanian and French (again, I KNOW we read them all, at least five times each)
  • 100 library books we read since May (at least twice each)
  • 100 books we received from a neighbor whose children have outgrown them (still working on those)
  • 75 books per year x 6 years (since my son was born) = 450 (this is an estimate and my husband thinks it’s on the low end :))
  • 30+ books from the recommended preschool reading list
  • 25+ books from Before Five in A Row

Of course, we have read each title at least twice to our children.

It’s not that hard to read this much. One book per day is 365 books a year. Let’s say you take a day off every week. Even so, you should be able to read over 300 books per year to your preschooler.

If you go to the library twice a month and max out your card and that of your husband and that of your child, you should not even have to spend money on books at all the reach this goal. It does not take money. It takes dedication.