Skip to content



Keep in Touch

Keep in Touch

Celebrating 10 years of the 1000 Books Before School Program

25 March, 2024

Did you know, if you read three children’s books a day, you can read more than 1000 books in a year?

The 1000 Books Before School is a program that has spread across the country – from the city streets of Sydney to the beaches of the Gold Coast and the Tasmanian town of Wynyard. And it started in Gunnedah.

Gunnedah Shire Library first held the 1000 Books Before School program in 2014.

Librarian Christiane Birkett says the program has great benefits for both children and their parents and carers.

“Study after study has shown reading books to young children not only helps endow them with a love of books, it improves their reading and cognitive skills,” Mrs Birkett said.

“It helps with language, literacy and vocabulary.

“But beyond that, it’s a really enjoyable activity to do with your child. Snuggling up with your child and a book or two before bedtime creates wonderful memories and can be a special time in the day.”

The 1000 Books Before School provides parents with a checklist to tally up the number of books – even if it is the same favourites over and over – with celebrations of milestones along the way, such as 50, 100, 250, 500, 750 and finally, 1000 books.

Hundreds of Gunnedah Shire children have taken part in events at Gunnedah Shire Library, often with the Mayor or Deputy Mayor in attendance, and collected certificates that commemorate their reading total.

“It has been a really successful and popular program,” Mrs Birkett said. “So much so that we have expanded it to include the 1000 Books After School program for school-aged children. This keeps them reading!

“It is a wonderful gift to foster a love of reading in your child.”

After it was introduced in 2014, Hume Libraries in Victoria reached out to find out more about the program, and it was launched by the Victorian Premier in 2015, with more than 40 libraries running the program throughout the state.

Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey said Gunnedah Shire Library should be proud of its innovative program and the success it was experiencing around the country.

“Congratulations to our Library staff for both starting this initiative and continuing the success story for a decade,” Cr Chaffey said.

“It is so important to give our children the best start, and this is a great way to do that. It not only builds a love of reading and books, but it is something all families can do. It has been wonderful to be part of this initiative and to see so many children proud of their successes.”

Former Gunnedah Shire Mayor Owen Hasler said he looked forward to the next 10 years of 1000 Books Before School.

“The fact that the 1000 Books Before School program is now in its 10th year since it was launched in January, 2014, while I was Mayor, clearly reflects the great value of the program in setting up our young children up for a lifelong love of books and learning-a terrific outcome for young people in this rural town of Gunnedah,” he said.

Our Library staff, ably led by Librarian Christine Birkett, are to be applauded for their efforts in sustaining the program and maintaining their enthusiasm in order to ensure the longevity of the wonderful initiative which has obviously benefitted hundreds of young people over the last 10 years.”

Some of the world’s best-loved writers have spoken about the importance of reading for children:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
“If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” – Roald Dahl

Here are a few words from a grandparent about the program:

“My grandson was part of the original 1000 Books Before School and 1000 Books After School program. This was a great program for him and everyone that participated. His reading improved immensely and also his spelling. It gave him the ability to explore new authors that he would not have otherwise read. He did complete both programs and was very happy when he received his awards from the Mayor. Overall, I highly recommend this program as it encourages children to learn and improve their reading skills. Thanks again for this wonderful program that the Library has provided for the children of Gunnedah.” – Yvonne, grandmother.

Here are a few words from a participant about the program:

“My name is Mack and I participated in the 1000 Books Before and After School reading program. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed reading different books. My reading improved and so did my spelling. I still love to read and l would encourage kids like I was back then who struggled a bit to do this, as it has helped me a lot.” – Mack, student.

For further reading, here are links to just a few studies about reading to young children:

Reading to Young Children: A Head-Start in Life, from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Victoria and The University of Melbourne 2012.
Early-initiated childhood reading for pleasure (rfp): associations with better cognitive performance, mental well-being and brain structure in young adolescence. Published online by Cambridge University Press, 28 June 2023.
From the Australian Government Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2022:


Caption: Gunnedah Shire Mayor Jamie Chaffey at a 1000 Books Before School presentation.


For more information, contact Gunnedah Shire Council’s Communications team on (02) 6740 2100 or