Mom and baby reading

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

“The more books a child has read, the more words a child has heard, the better off they will be once they start school,” said Early Literacy Librarian Shelley Harris. “They’ll have a strong foundation for learning how to read, for learning how to learn.”

That’s why in November, we launched "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten." The goal—for children to read 1,000 books with their families before starting kindergarten—may sound overwhelming, Harris said, but “if you read one book a night, you’ll finish in less than three years.”

For every 100 books read, kids earn one sticker to take home and one to add to a collage at the library, creating a visual measure of the community’s progress. An Oak Park Public Library card is not needed to sign up. Once a child finishes 1,000 books, they can pick out a book to take home and keep, have their photo taken, and attend a graduation party at the library. “It’s our way to celebrate their accomplishments and cheer them on,” Harris said.

Families can sign up babies, toddlers, and preschoolers for the long-term program at any library location, any time! 

Pre-literacy skills 

Storytime classes help children acquire pre-literacy skills in fun, age-appropriate ways through the Very Ready Reading Program and process. This research-based program lays the foundation for future reading skills by encouraging caregivers to share books, songs, stories, words, rhymes, sounds, and play.

Storytimes schedule > Kindergarten readiness (PDF) >

Very Ready Reading

At the foundation of our early literacy programs are the research-based Very Reading Reading program. With seven simple ways to get children on the path to reading, it’s never too early to start

Sharing books, songs, stories, words, rhymes, sounds, and play to give little ones the building blocks they need to learn how to read later. It’s why we strategically support parents, caregivers, teachers, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers—with library-based resources and expertise as well as active community partnerships.

You can build reading and words into your daily routines and conversations by sharing one of these seven building blocks every day. When children are used to hearing new words and know how stories are told, reading books won’t be so overwhelming when they start school. By using the words and stories all around us instead of flash cards, you will give your kids a better foundation to become readers when they are ready.