How Do You Grow a Reader, Anyway?

We all want our children to love learning and reading, so how does a busy parent grow a reader?

There's lots of research showing that children who have had 1,000 books read to them by the time they start kindergarten are in the best position to do well in school and be great readers for life. To help you make that happen for your little one, we've created Grow a Reader. It's all about hearing lots and lots of words and sharing time with loved ones.

"Books help a lot with real-life situations," said Rachel Meiri, whose son had a great first hair cut because he and Rachel had just read a book about hair cuts and they were able to talk about what to expect every step of the way. "Reading also expands his vocabulary immensely, and stirs his imagination," said Rachel. 

How does Grow a Reader work?

To be honest, you don't need an official program--just read to your little one, every day. We can help make it even more fun, though. When you sign up for Grow a Reader, you'll get a "seed packet," and in that packet will be a card with outlines of 100 seeds. You mark or color one for each book you read together. When the seeds are all marked, bring them in and you'll get a leaf with your child's name on it to add to our Grow a Reader wall. And you'll get the next seed packet. Watch our video to learn more:

We've also made sturdy activity cards that you can hook to a stroller or diaper bag. Rachel notes that "the activity cards are really fun and great to have at doctor appointments and other times when you have to wait." When you first start, you'll get a key ring with several cards. You get a new card every time you turn in a seed packet.

Grow a Reader materials displayed in a wooden box with a plant

When should we start?

Start any time. It's never too early to start reading with your baby, and it's never too late, either. We've got thousands of board books, and even more thousands of picture books, so there's no need to spend money, either. 

How long will it take?

To read 1,000 books before kindergarten sounds like a lot, right? If you read a book a day, it will take less than three years. That sounds much easier. Three books a day? Less than a year! And it is not a competition. Just getting into the habit of reading every day will set your child up for a lifetime of loving books.

Rachel really likes having this goal. She also likes that it is something that does take time, "it's not an instantaneous achievement and it's fun to quantify it!" Her son's grandparents are also excited about it and helping out with the reading.

What books count?

All of them! Little ones sometimes want to hear you read the same book over and over, and that's just fine. You choose whether you want to count total number of books read or total number of titles. That's completely up to you.

How do we sign up?

Stop by the Youth Services Desk, or sign up online at You can log books as you read them using the Beanstack website or app, or on the paper seed packets. Either is fine. After each 100 books, stop by the Youth Services Desk, and soon you'll be joining Rachel and her son putting up leaves on our Grow a Reader Wall.