Hickory – To promote strong early literacy skills, Hickory Public Library is encouraging parents and caregivers to read 1,000 books to their newborns, infants, and toddlers before they head off to school. Research shows that the most reliable predictor of school success is being read to during early childhood. Reading to children from an early age can help close the vocabulary gap and prepare children to enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. Most importantly, sharing books with children promotes a lifelong love of books and reading.

The “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” program is a nationwide challenge that encourages parents and caregivers to regularly read aloud to their children. By reading just one book a night, families can reach the 1,000-book goal in three years and provide their children essential early literacy skills.

The new program will help parents and young readers keep track of their progress through Beanstack, the library’s new online reading tracker. Participants can sign up at https://hickorync.beanstack.org or by visiting either Hickory Public Library location. For every reading milestone reached, a child will earn an online badge and a small prize to recognize their achievement. Parents and caregivers who don’t have access to the internet can also keep track of their child’s reading progress using paper logs available at both libraries.

After a child has read all 1,000 books, he or she will get to choose a free book to keep. Prizes for the program will be funded by Friends of Hickory Public Library.

The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program is free to all families with children ages birth to 5. For more information, call Hickory Public Library at (828) 304-0500 or visit the website at www.hickorync.gov/content/library.