1000 Books: Project Completion

About two years ago (December 2009), I started a project I titled “1000 Books” in which I hoped to read 1000 different books with my son before his sixth birthday (fall 2013): picture books, chapter books, or essentially any books that we read in full. Originally, I said I wanted to read the books by his fifth birthday, but then I panicked because that was too soon and changed it to his sixth birthday. The purpose of this goal was to nurture his natural interest in reading, to expose him to a variety of good books, and to help him gain the literary exposure necessary to learn to read at age 5 or 6.

It’s been quite the wonderful experience for us.

I had no idea how easy it would be to get to 1000 books. It quickly became a habit to pick up a variety of different picture books from the library each week. We regularly had between 50 and 75 different library books out at a time; I had to put a small bookshelf in the family room just for library books to keep them separated from our other books (so we wouldn’t lose them before they were due!). Some books we didn’t read in full; some books we didn’t read more than once. But in general, we got in to a regular habit of “story time” every afternoon. Raisin and I loved that special cuddle time. And, as Raisin was learning to use the toilet at the beginning of the project and he continued to express intense interest in reading, I made his “toilet time” a special “read books” time, so he didn’t resent me. (I’d make him sit on the toilet after lunch and he’d sit there “reading” books happily for a short time. After six months of that, he was, essentially, ready to be toilet trained.)

We reached 1000 books at some point in December of 2011 (although in the last year I’ve had a harder time keeping track of books read), and we’re still reading like crazy. I had little idea that it would be so much fun. I suppose I should have known. I love reading and picture books are creative, artistic, and well written (for the most part). Cuddling with my boy – now four-years-old and too busy to cuddle often – is a precious part of our day.  I love how Raisin sees a familiar book at the library and says “I love this one! Let’s get it again.” And sometimes, like this fall, when I was reading lots of picture books myself for the CYBILS awards, he’d say things like “No! We can’t return this book to the library! We’ve only read it three times!” I’d say he’s destined to be a reader for life now.

And then, I had no idea my son would learn how to read at age three. I can’t take credit for him learning last summer, and I don’t know that reading so frequently made all the difference either. (One known influence was the Leap Frog phonics video that he watched repeatedly as a two-year-old: he learned the sounds and somehow put together that the sounds combine to form the words in our books.) At any rate, he figured it out, and the future seems to include much more reading, this time by Raisin himself.  We still love to read picture books, but now we’ve incorporated easy readers into our regular reading as well, where Raisin gets to read to me. Although I don’t intend to begin another 1000 books project (more on this in a minute), I love knowing that Raisin would be capable of making a new goal of reading books himself, or so forth.

He’s come so far since I started our “Growing a Reader”/1000 Books Project, and I’m so delighted to see where the next months and years of reading take us.

 After 1000 Books: School at Home

I mentioned that I don’t intend another “1000 Books” project from here, and I don’t intend to keep updating the long list. It’s been very hard to keep the record of all the books we’ve read up to date, simply because we go through so many so frequently! Also, because I was focusing on reviewing CYBILS nominees in the fall, so many of the best books we’ve read on that list were never mentioned on this blog, and they deserve mention because they were good!

Further, Raisin’s needs have changed. As many of you know, I’ve been contemplating homeschooling him come kindergarten (in another 18 months). But Raisin has such an interest in learning, I decided to give some “focused” learning a chance in our home, just to see how it could work.

Raisin has adapted to “school at home” with a passion. We began by reading library books about the planets, which for some reason he loves. He wrote his own “book” about the planets and illustrated it too. This month he’s been fascinated about the human body, especially how digestion works (“…and then we poop it out!”) and the skeleton (since he can feel his bones). We wrote up another “book” and he’s going to illustrate it. We’ve learned how to read an analog clock and all about the coins (pennies, nickels, and dimes, mostly), so we can pretend to go grocery shopping with our pretend food.

I picked up a book of letters and number worksheets so Raisin can practice writing and now he is making me worksheets all the time. This is amazing because in December, before I began the writing worksheets, he always cried that writing was “too hard” so I never pushed it. Now he’s always writing things down.  He also especially loves number games and worksheets. We’ve talked about odd and even numbers, numbers that are “greater’ or “less than”, and even some basic addition. (I’m sticking with numbers under 15 or 20 and addition in single digits for now.)

He also is fascinated by maps: we’ve learned about the seven continents, and we have been talking about Antarctica this month (he likes that it’s the South Pole, opposite where Santa lives). He has learned about map legends or keys, about the points of a compass, and scale (although this last concept has been rather difficult to understand).

In short, Raisin loves school at home. Some days, he wants to “do school” for hours. “Can I have another worksheet?” I don’t want to burn him out, but I’m fascinated by his fascination and I love seeing what he’ll want to learn next!

I’m considering posting occasionally about our “school at home” projects on this site. I could separate it into a different site (and in fact, I do have a personal family blog, but I don’t want that to go public, and I think public sharing of homeschooling ideas would be helpful) so just let me know if you’d be interested in hearing about Raisin’s School at Home progress….or not.

Whether or not I discuss more of Raisin’s “school” on this blog, I do plan on continuing to post about picture books and other books we’ve enjoyed together and that I’d recommend. My personal reading focus will remain classic literature, but since mothering is such a huge part of my life, I fully intend to keep picture books and other children’s literature in my regular reading too!

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Sounds like Raisin’s doing awesome! If he likes the South Pole so much would he like Mr. Popper’s Penguins? I don’t think it’s too old for him — it’s a chapter book, but it’s in simple language and features a protagonist who loves the South Pole AND HAS PENGUINS. It was one of my favorites when I was little.

    1. Jenny » Yes! We have Mr. Popper’s Penguins and I have fond memories reading it when I was a kid. We started it and got about 50 pages in. I’m having a hard time getting him interested in reading chapter books with me. He gets impatient for the pictures. Some day we’ll get back to Mr. Popper’s Penguins!

  2. This whole post is absolutely amazing!

    I think it is great that you read with your son. While my mom did read with me, it was never on a regular basis or for a long period of time (I was her third child, which has something to do with it I think). I learned to read at a young age as well, 4, so I was always grabbing books and reading them myself anyway. But I love that you read with him-it is something I want to do with my own kids. I would love to foster that love of literature in them at young ages so that when they’re older, they’ll continue that habit on their own.

    (And I am so going to steal your 1000 books idea when I start to have kiddos).

    I like hearing about your “School at Home.” It’s amazing that he is ready to learn about so many things and that you’re encouraging it! Keep with it! 🙂

    1. Allie » I am the third child too. My mom read us chapter books all together. I don’t remember learning to read early, but I certainly did like it once I figured it out! And I think I got the 1000 books idea from some books I read so steal away since it’s not mine to begin with lol! Reading with kids is the best.

  3. What a wonderful milestone to reach, Rebecca! I hope it results in many happy reminisces over the next many years 🙂

  4. I homeschooled my three children and never, ever regretted it. When they finally started regular public school (after we’d been homeschooling for ten years) they were all ahead of their peers in their education, but it wasn’t because I was a particularly good teacher. It was because they read a great deal, and they had a minimal amount of structured work to do with a maximum amount of time to follow their own educational passions. Also, their days weren’t filled with the unfortunate amount of “down time” that, even in the best classrooms, takes up so much of a school day.
    I loved homeschooling. I loved the many years of close and constant contact with my children. One of the arguments used against homeschooling is that the children won’t be adequately “socialized” but I found the reverse to be true. My children spent a great deal of time with other children, were comfortable with both adults and children, and never endured or picked up some of the bad social behaviors children pick up in schools. (bullying, teasing, cliquish behaviors, over-dependence on peer-pressures, the tendency to look at adults as “other”, etc.) I look back on the years with my children as pure delight. We had structured lessons in the mornings; in the afternoons we went to homeschool swimming lessons at a local college, Writer’s Circle, piano lessons, Latin lessons with other children, trips to museums, the library, etc. We spent hours on the sofa, reading together. They learned a great deal, we were all happy, we had fun, and I honestly can’t think of one bad thing to say about the experience.
    I would urge anyone to consider homeschooling, with several provisions: 1) Make sure you really want to do it and can honestly say you’re enjoying it, or it won’t be worth it for you or your kids. 2) Meet up with other homeschooling families that you enjoy being with. You can share activities, playtime, ideas, and the homeschooling mothers have a built in support-group to learn from and share ideas with. 3) Trust in the organic nature of learning…it tends to take place very naturally, if you let it. (John Holt’s Growing Without Schooling was one of my “bibles.”)
    Sorry I’ve rattled on for so long, but, as I guess you can tell, this topic is dear to me! I’ll be interested to read about your lessons with Raisin. I know you’ll love them.

  5. It sounds like a wonderful experience for you and your child. 🙂 In a world where everyone is so busy it is always nice to hear about those moments where people slow down and enjoy. I hope he turns into a life-long reader. 🙂

  6. Absolutely fantastic! This is one of the best posts ever. I read to my five year old every night and every morning and he loves it. My mum read to me a lot and she remains to this day the person with whom I talk books the most with. In fact, we spend a lot of our time together or apart talking reading and books. Just today I was thinking how blessed I am to share her love for reading and to have had this my whole life.

    In Ghana, when someone does you a really good turn and you want to say thanks, you can (and people often do) delegate someone else to say thank you on your behalf. It’s the communal nature of things and also a public acknowledgement of gratitude. We also say thanks for self-interested work. So on behalf of Raisin and even though it is your work to do, I say a big thank you for being the mother that you are!

  7. Rebecca, thank you for updating us on this project. My little one turns two on Thursday. And we read quite a bit, but I’m inspired by you and think I’ll create afternoon reading time.

    Also, I’m so amazed at Raisin’s progress! I’ve thought about homeschooling but have been scared by the concept and what resources it might require, particularly as I work part-time. Anyway, I would love to hear more about your adventures here and you can always “book it up” by telling us which books you’re using.

    1. Jessica » I do think it’d be hard to coordinate if I were working! But we’re just taking it little at a time for now since he’s still not old enough to HAVE to go to school yet. Just encourage learning at home and read a ton, I’d say!

      1. Thanks for the response, Rebecca. I am working hard on keeping great books in the house and making reading them fun. Also, I’m curious about the LeapFrog video you mentioned. Is it the Farm Phonics one?

        1. Jessica, I am not familiar with the Farm Phonics one. The one Raisin watched over and over was Letter Factory which led in to Talking Words Factory (we didn’t own that one but watched it from the library. Most of the Leap, Lily and Tad videos (the kid characters) play with the same phonics songs and so Raisin has enjoyed most of them.

          Not seeing a Farm Phonics video on the LeapFrog site, though.

          1. Jessica » I hadn’t seen that one! Sounds like one to look for, maybe my library has it. I’m curious if the Scout and Violet characters have the same phonics songs that Letter Factory does.

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