Preschooler reads 1,000 books

In June, four-year-old Wilton resident Sam Robin became the first child to complete Wilton Library’s 1000 Books for Kindergarten early reading initiative, sponsored by Cohen and Wolf and Tiger Tales Books.

The library started the 1000 Books for Kindergarten program in September 2016, in conjunction with its new library card initiative, which removed the age restriction for library cards so children of all ages can obtain one.

Children’s Library Manager Andrea Szabo said there are 211 children from 174 families signed up for the program, which is open to all Wilton Library patrons — both Wilton residents and out-of-town families — with children not yet in kindergarten.

Szabo said the Children’s Library has “always” offered a reading program for school age children in the summer, and she came up with the idea of offering a reading program for preschoolers a few years ago.

“1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a national program that I felt would fit our community,” she said.

Studies have shown that reading to children from infancy helps them build language skills and develop socially and emotionally, and the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program aims to encourage parent-child bonding through reading and promote reading to newborns, infants and toddlers.

Upon signing up for the program at the Children’s Library desk, participants receive a gift pack that includes information about the program, a bag, growth chart, reading log, bookmark and suggested reading list.

For children under the age of five, Szabo said, most parents read picture books.

“Some favorites are Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Curious George by H.A. Rey, and the Dinosaur series by Jane Yolen,” she said.

Sam said he participated in the program because he likes to “read a lot of books.”

His mother, Michelle Kencitzski, said they read “many different books” from September to June.

“While we have bookshelves filled with books at home, the program encouraged us to take more books from the library than we had before,” said Kencitzski.

“It made it very fun and exciting to find new books each week.”

When it came to choosing which books to read, “I read the books I liked,” said Sam, whose favorites include:

  • Sloppy Joe, The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood.

  • T‑Veg: The Tale of a Carrot-Crunching Dinosaur by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Katherina Manolessou.

  • The Orchestra Pit by Johanna Wright.

"We let Sam choose the books he read. It could be anything from a very simple, age-appropriate book to a book that has 60 pages in it,” said Kencitzski. “We read from the moment Sam’s eyes opened until bedtime throughout the day, every single day.”

Sam colored in a circle for each book read on the reading log. “Once the sheet was complete, we would hand it in at the library and get another,” Kencitzski said.

For every 100 books read, participants can return to the Children’s Library to receive a free book and a sticker. Those that reach 1,000 books, like Sam, receive a certificate of completion.

Sam’s parents said he “loves to be read to and he loves the library even more.”

Sam said his favorite part about Wilton Library — which his mother said he visits “at least a few times a week” — is “getting books about poems.”

Szabo said the library is “very grateful” to Cohen and Wolf and Tiger Tales, who sponsor the library’s 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, because it “would not be possible” without them.