Childhood literacy celebrated in DeKalb


Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams and Redan-Trotti libraries kick-off 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

For the second year in a row, DeKalb County adults and children came together to engage in storytelling, reading, writing and celebrating literacy at two local libraries.

May 30 and June 3 marked two kick-off events for the second celebration of 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, a children’s literacy program founded by the DeKalb Library Foundation and DeKalb County Public Library.

The kick-offs—at Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library in Decatur and Redan-Trotti Library in Lithonia—included storytelling by Veronica Winley, book giveaways, snacks and more for attending children and adults.

Winley transformed Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library into a young readers environment with imagery, enthusiasm and oration.
“Who’s ready to get silly?” Winley asked a room filled with children and accompanying adults. “Story time is not a spectator sport—it’s fun for everyone!”

Event officials said the goal of the program is to support parents and promote reading to children as a gateway to literacy.

“Families are told to read 1,000 books before their child reaches kindergarten,” said Jill Joplin, executive director of the DeKalb Library Foundation. “That doesn’t necessarily mean 1,000 different books. It can mean one book 50 times—babies like repetition.

This helps build brain cells early in children.”

Families are given one book, instructions on engaging children with reading and a 250-book reading log as a “participation kit” to promote reading and develop literacy before a child reaches public school.

Joplin said kits have been distributed through all DeKalb County libraries as well as the DeKalb County health department and DeKalb Medical Hospital, resulting in more than 30 families finishing the 1,000 book challenge.

Joplin said early literacy can make a positive difference in an early learning environment.

“If children are not reading on grade level by third grade, they get way behind in school,” Joplin said. “This is our attempt to close that reading gap.”

DeKalb County Public Library director Alison Weissinger said the county is proud of early childhood literacy initiatives such as 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten. She said positive feedback from the community in 2016 led to the program’s return in 2017.

“It’s about building a love for books in children—that’s really what we’re all about,” Weissinger said. “This is fundamental to our mission. We’re about information, books and stories.

There’s nothing more important that we do than encourage the next generation of leaders, community members and workers to read.”

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is independently funded through donations. To learn more about the program, including information on donating, visit For more information on similar events at your local DeKalb County library, visit


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