Troy library challenges local youths to read 1,000 books

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published August 25, 2022

 Troy Public Library Head of Youth Services Keegan Sulecki stands with local reader Vaida Thompson after Thompson completed the library’s Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge.

Troy Public Library Head of Youth Services Keegan Sulecki stands with local reader Vaida Thompson after Thompson completed the library’s Read 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge.

Photo provided by Nancy Beattie


TROY — The Troy Public Library is throwing down the gauntlet and challenging local youths to read 1,000 books before age 5.

Called the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Challenge, it was designed to encourage higher literacy rates for children by the time they begin school. Nancy Beattie signed her granddaughter, Vaida, up for the program last year, and Vaida is among the first kids to complete the challenge.

“My granddaughter, Vaida Thompson, did the Read 1,000 Books Challenge at the library. I signed her up in June of last year when she was 3 1/2 years old, and every day that we read, we would go to her account and we would put in the title of the book she read and the author. The account would track her progress. Every 100 books she read, she would get a sticker,” said Beattie. “To her excitement, she completed the challenge just this week. The library allowed us to take a picture of her with the head of youth services as she showed the certificate she was awarded.”

Keegan Sulecki, the library’s head of youth services, said that the program is still fairly new but it has encouraged a number of Troy families to sign up and get reading.

“This is an ongoing program, and we have only had it for a couple of years. I believe we started in the fall of 2020,” she explained in an email. “Families have about five years to complete the challenge (if they start at birth). We’ve only had about 20 completions so far, but we have 364 children currently enrolled and working toward the goal.”

Sulecki said that this challenge can make an enormous difference in a child’s life.

“Before children enter school, their parents/caregivers are their main teachers,” said Sulecki. “Reading together at a young age helps children expand their vocabulary; learn concepts like colors, shapes and numbers; explore social/emotional topics like sharing, family and friendship; and make connections to the world around them. Most of all, the time spent reading with a loving adult supports bonding and helps the child associate reading with positive feelings of love and comfort which can encourage them in their reading journey when they start school and begin to learn to read.”

Beattie, a retired teacher, said her experience working with young children inspired her to sign Vaida up for the challenge and help her along the way.

“I’m a retired reading teacher, and reading is your lifeline,” she said. “If you can read, you can learn, and if you can learn, you can do pretty much anything. We had been reading her books every day when she was a baby. It helps them develop language. You want them to hear words and language. When I saw this challenge at the library, and I stop by the library almost every weekend, I thought it was something we could sign up for, and we plugged along and now we’ve reached 1,000.”

The library staff said they are seeing a lot of enthusiasm for the program among patrons.

“Our Read 1,000 Books program is ongoing, and new families sign up all the time,” said Sulecki. “They log their books on our Beanstack platform and receive either a sticker or a small prize for every 100 book milestone. At 1,000 books, the child gets to pick a free book and receive a pencil case with some school supplies like pencils, a glue stick, child scissors and an eraser.”

Beattie said her family wants to celebrate Vaida’s achievement and encourages other families to do the same with their children.

“We made a big to-do when she reached 1,000 books and are actually having a party for her on Aug. 27 to celebrate her achievement,” she remarked.

Both Beattie and Sulecki agreed that early reading is one of the most proactive activities a parent or caregiver can take when fostering the development of a child.

“When you speak to a child or read books, that is their first experience with learning language,” said Beattie. “Every book they read exposes them to words they don’t know. It helps them with their imagination, it helps their vocabulary and it helps them with learning. Reading comics, reading recipes, whatever you can read with them is great. Children will gravitate toward what interests them.”

More information about the program is available at https://troy