Library to launch 1000 books initiative

Published: 12 June 2024

Ashburton Library is launching a fun, new programme aimed at reading to young children.

The 1000 Books Before School programme is a collaboration between the library and Ashburton Altrusa, and it encourages regular reading to babies and toddlers in the years before they start school. It will be launched at the library’s Wriggle and Read session on Tuesday 25 June, at 10.30am, and everyone is welcome.

Library manager Jill Watson said all kinds of reading counted, from picture books and eBooks to bedtime storytelling and songs.

“It doesn’t matter if you read the same rhyming book 10 times in a row, it all counts and helps form a fabulous habit of lifelong reading.”

Several other libraries in New Zealand have similar programmes and Ashburton Library staff contacted Ashburton Altrusa to see if they would be interested in helping establish one here. Altrusa members already deliver books to homes as part of the library’s Books on Wheels programme.

Altrusa president Val Prendergast said the club was delighted to partner with the library, as it also had a goal to improve literacy.

“Improving reading and writing helps open up opportunities for everyone, and 1000 Books Before School is a programme that starts with infants and toddlers and lays a great foundation for reading.”

As part of its support, Altrusa has covered the cost of printing the first batch of booklets used to track progress to the 1000 books target.

To register for 1000 Books Before School, caregivers and children must be library members. They will receive the booklet and library bag, and can collect reading milestones along the way.

Miss Watson said a target of 1000 books was achievable and the library had books to suit all ages, reading abilities and interest.

“If you read one book a day for five years, that’s 1825 books, or one book a day for three years is 1095 books, so it is definitely achievable, and you’ll be forming a love for reading from an early age.”

Speech and language therapist Ellie Barns said reading to children in their early years was important in developing communication skills, as well as literacy.

“Books are great for building early joint attention skills, gestures and signs such as pointing and vocabulary development. They are also great for teaching and creating opportunities for the child to learn and use communication for multiple purposes such as sharing interests, questioning, commenting and the like.”

Library membership is free to all residents or ratepayers of the Ashburton District. Want to join? Here's how.

The 1000 Books Before School programme will be launched at the library’s Wriggle and Read session on Tuesday 25 June, at 10.30am.

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