How Many is too Many?

A library in St. Louis County has launched an initiative to get parents reading to their kids before kindergarten. But I think their goal is a bit lofty. Parents are encouraged through prizes to read 1000 books to their child before they reach kindergarten.

That’s a thousand books in the first five years of their life. I know the books are short and you can read multiple books in a single day, but new parents aren’t exactly full of free time. Obviously the program is designed to create and enhance better language skills and vocabulary, but eh. I don’t know how many books were read to me before kindergarten, but I know it wasn’t close to a thousand of them. 

Do you think this library is on to something or just a little too enthusiastic with its expectations?

22 thoughts on “How Many is too Many?

  1. We started reading to ours from 6 months. Three books a night. That’s an easy thousand books before he was 2. Now three books would be a pain since he’s into chapter books. LOL. Imagine reading the first three harry potter books in a day before bed. LOL


  2. Huh. So, when I was young, I had a ton of books read to me, and by kindergarten I was even reading on my own–but I always was a reader. Not everyone is as voracious as I was, nor as precocious (which is, I’m convinced, a nice way of saying “socially awkward and somewhat obnoxious”). IMO, a thousand might be great (and even achievable) for kids who are very into reading, but I’m of the mind that a pre-K kid needs a balanced diet of intellectual stimuli, spanning all subjects and art forms. After all, those are the years during which our brains are casting out webs, seeing what catches when placed against our natural talents and what, ultimately escapes us…they really are “formative years”.

    tl;dr. This is a good challenge for natural readers, but those who hate reading will likely not come away from this thousand book mandate loving it anymore than when they went into it.


    • I think you’re right. The kids (and parents) who already enjoy reading would probably look at this as a nice challenge or goal and those who don’t wouldn’t. I also agree that kids need a nice balance of things thrown their way. I’d hope parents wouldn’t solely focus on being a big reader.


  3. I really don’t think it’s about quantity… it think it’s more about passion. I loved reading, and I honestly don’t remember the act of learning to read because I was so young when I figured it out. Because of my love for reading, I easily read 1000+ books to my kids before Kindergarten. Mostly, it was snuggle time. My daughter kind-of-sort-of enjoys reading. My son couldn’t care less.

    Personally, I think the goal is a little silly… it’s just a measurable-something to throw at the issue. Some kids take to reading, and some don’t. Just like some take to math, and others don’t. I know very successful people who say they didn’t know how to read a single word before going to Kindergarten, and I know people who couldn’t find two ends of their life to tie together who read constantly. It is what it is for each individual.


  4. I don’t think it’s a lofty goal. I was always a reader though. So I guess it depends on the kid though. Instead of buying my nephew toys for his b-day and Christmas, I always buy him books. This is to encourage a love of reading. He also loves to go to the library. He is 3 years old now. So he might be able to reach the 1000 book mark by 5 years old.


    • I wasn’t. Not until middle school did I enjoy reading what was assigned in class, and not until high school did I start utilizing my public library and Barnes and Noble membership. I’d say of my 24 years I’ve only really been a reader for about 10. And all the years prior to college I didn’t have as much time to read as others might. So I guess my view point is a bit different since it took me so long to realize how great books can be. But I’ve never given anyone books before. And I won’t. Unless it’s specific titles. Then maybe.


  5. I get what the library is trying to do … But really? Ok if you want to read 1000 books to a kid by the age of 5 – reading a picture book
    each night before bed, 365 days in a year… Easy. But if you’re aiming a bit higher and want to read Harry Potter or Tolkien to your kid. Those bad boys are going to take some time. Then there was my kid (who is now 14) who refused to let me read her anything from about the age of 2 – she preferred to ‘read’ to herself. And she has been reading above her age level since the school started measuring. So I think any reading is valuable – putting a number on it is unnecessarily overbearing.


  6. The library has the right idea but I think they may be way off in their numbers. One thousand books before age 3 or 4? (Junior kindergarten starts then) is far too ambitious, especially if you take into account older siblings who have sports and other activities which the parents may want to watch, homework for the students (parents or siblings), fixing meals, cleaning house and most parents have commute time to consider.
    I would much rather spend what little quality time I had with my kids, interacting with them, not trying to get them to sit still so I could read a book to them.
    Now, if the library had said one book a week, that is much more attainable, or maybe different levels to accommodate the complexity of certain books (The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Huckleberry Finn, etc.) then it would make more sense.


    • I agree. Except I don’t know when kids typically start reading Harry Potter or The Hobbit, so I’m not sure if those types of books are taken into consideration in this. But I don’t think Huck Finn is read by 3 or 4-year olds. I mean, parents complain about their high school kids reading that and the language is definitely mature compared to just about anything out there. I read it in high school and thought that was an appropriate age at which to read it.


      • Ah, but the parents want something which won’t put them to sleep, as well, lol.
        I think parents have the issue with books like Huck Finn because they aren’t the ones who are there to answer any questions their children may have.
        HP started out for 10+ years old, I believe but by the 7th book the comprehension level and scenes were more for older teens and young adults.
        The Hobbit…younger teens and up I would think but it has dragons and the like in it which would draw them in.


  7. I guess they set the bar high to get parents reading to their kids, I guess the winner is the one that come closest. I guess some might manage it if they are short books, or the child is particularly interested in reading.


    • Yes. I still think if a child isn’t taking a string liking to reading, then reading to them and forcing them to read won’t be nearly as effective or enjoyable when compared to someone who immediately enjoys it. But I guess there are worse things than a parent encouraging a child to read.


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