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Louisville's Children Challenged to 'Read' 1,000 Books By Kindergarten

The mayor of Louisville, Ky., and its librarians are challenging children ages 5 and under to "read" 1,000 books by the time they enter kindergarten, part of an initiative to boost literacy skills in a city where just 35 percent of incoming kindergarteners start school with what experts there deem basic skills.

The so-called "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge," sponsored by the Library Foundation and the Community Foundation of Louisville, kicks off Jan. 25, and includes any book read to children--even multiple times.

"It is absolutely essential, on many levels, that we prepare our children to learn and succeed from day one," said Mayor Greg Fischer in a statement.

While 1,000 books might at first seem daunting, the goal is easier to meet than one might expect, librarians assert: The average children's picture book takes just five minutes to read out loud. And by reading three picture books per day for one year, children will have heard 1,095 books by the time they are 5 years old.

And yes, repeats count, the orchestrators say.

So if your daughter wants to hear "Cinderella" 62 times in one month, she gets credit for 62 stories. She also gets credit for listening to books at circle time at day care or in preschool, the librarians said, so long as the reading is recorded.

Parents and caregivers can pick up reading logs at any Louisville Free Public Library location. In addition, the materials provided include tips on literacy and suggested reading. Children who meet specific goals earn everything from stickers to a free book of their own.

"Parents," added Library Director Craig Buthod in a statement, "are a child's first and best teacher."

While libraries have long had incentive programs to boost reading, of late they have begun to work with school districts to promote school readiness, even partnering together to enhance curricula.

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