WATERTOWN — The Watertown and Oakville Libraries are part of the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge.

The challenge, an early literacy initiative run by the 1000 Books Foundation, encourages families to read 1,000 books before children enter kindergarten.

Any child from birth through pre-kindergarten age can be registered to participate. Every book read counts towards the final total, including repeated old favorites and stories read to them by siblings or other loved ones.

The program is self-paced which allows families to focus on enjoying their time spent reading together and not feel rushed. Participants will keep track of each book and bring their list into the library.

At different milestones, starting with 25 books and through the final 1,000, children will receive small awards to acknowledge their achievement.

The 1000 Books Foundation’s “Big Read 2021,” the annual one-day online event to help kick-start early childhood literacy, takes place on Saturday, October 2. The foundation asks parents and caregivers to read one book to their children on that day.

Contributing their efforts to the Big Read 2021 is local author, Donna Marie Merritt, who will be sharing one of her own stories and a special message about reading which will be linked through the library’s pages and social media.

Viewers and participants of the Big Read are encouraged to tag the library with their photos and updates of what they’re reading for the day.

“Encouraging reading to children from an early age is one of the best things we can do to help give them a strong foundation for future learning”, said Joan Rintelman, director of the Watertown Library Association, “This is a very worthy effort. And besides that, it’s fun.”

Families can complete a registration card at either the Watertown or Oakville Libraries. Registration will remain open on an ongoing basis. Anyone with questions can contact the libraries for more information. The Watertown Library may be reached at 860-945-5360 and the Oakville Branch Library is at 860-945-5368.

Details can also be found on the library website at www.watertownlibrary.org.

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