Library to launch 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program

It sounds daunting at first: To have each Milford child enter kindergarten having heard or read 1,000 books.

Parents, who will be doing most of the reading, may picture stacks and stacks of books piled all over the house and even more time crammed into their busy schedules.

But the school-readiness effort isn’t very daunting at all, children’s librarian Suzanne Harrison Thomas says. “Everything counts,’’ she said. “Board books and picture books — you can even read the same book multiple times.

“Parents are already reading to their children, so they shouldn’t second-guess themselves or stress out over it,’’ Thomas said. “You are getting your child ready for kindergarten.’’

The local 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten effort will kick off on Saturday, June 17, at 10:30 a.m. with a performance by Al DeCant, the “Singing Principal,’’ sponsored by the Friends of the Milford Library.

Starter kits, including a reading journal and a book, will be given to each participant, courtesy of the FOML. Each journal has room to record 100 books; as each milestone is passed, the parent and child can return to the library for another reading log.

One book a night would total 365 books, so a child could hear or read 1,000 books in less than three years. Most children start kindergarten at age 5.

“It’s not just reading to put them to bed,’’ the children’s librarian said. “You’ll hear many ‘rare’ words in a picture book,’’ Thomas said, “about outer space, construction and topics like that. A picture book doesn’t mean it’s a baby book. These words expand vocabulary and start conversations.

“After all, if you’re not a doctor, medical textbooks can be hard to understand too.’’

The children’s librarian said that she and Dr. Ann Bolin, the FOML president, have wanted a project that would attract younger members to the Friends group and to help even more families become aware of what the library has to offer.

The Milford program is registered which provides some materials and support, Thomas said. There is also a book list and other resources on the web site.

Jennifer Culver said she reads to her young son and daughter every night before bed and sometimes during the day too. “It starts to focus them and helps them bond with you better, by hearing your voice,’’ the young mom said during a recent trip to the library.

“They are always listening to you.’’