I Unintentionally Read 10,000 Books to my Preschooler

Without trying to, and without even realizing I had done so, I read over 10,000 books to my preschooler in two years!

People often commented on my young son’s vocabulary and maturity when we were at stores, the library, and offices, and if they heard him read anything, they would remark on his skill level and reading style – the ability to the change each character’s voice properly with no stumbling over words or who was speaking, voice inflections, and enthusiasm.

My brother eventually asked me, “What did you DO?  He’s 5 and reading at a third grade level!”  By 8 he was at an 8th grade level, and at 13, he was reading at the college level.

I answered, “I just read to him.  A lot.  Hours every day.”

“How many books do you have in your house?”

“I don’t know.  Let’s count them.”  We estimated 6,000 (and I have a small house, but there are several bookcases in every room).

“But surely these aren’t the books you read to him?”

“No, not all.  Not yet, anyways.”

I related to him the story of going into our local library when JR was 3 and the librarian asked us to come to Story Time.  I told her that he couldn’t sit still for that – I had tried it at another big library where the children all sat quietly, but when he was out he wanted to move.

“Please bring him!  I don’t mind children walking about or playing while I read.  Just bring him,” our soon-to-be-favorite librarian and friend, Miss Carol, implored.

So, every week while she read, I began to pull my allotted 50 book maximum from the Young Children’s section beginning with the “A’s”.  I decided to read him every book that looked good, going in order each week from A to Z.

The only problem was, we would finish our 50 books in two days.  So we went to a different city, to a library I used to frequent when I was single and dreaming about having children to bring.  Their limit was 25 books, and they had the largest collection of any library near me of Holiday books, as well as older favorites.

Still not enough.  So we drove to each of my city’s 12 libraries where we tracked down every Berenstain Bear book (affiliate links) we could find.  We printed out a list of over 250 of them so that we could check them off.  If the library only had a few, we’d just read them there.  Next, we did the county libraries, and then other cities’ libraries.  Oftentimes there was an adjacent park, so he would play there for an hour as well, and we’d have a picnic.

Not to mention all my books at home.  We were going through the preschool books I had amassed AND books meant for older kids, first to third grade.

When he turned 4, we kept up with our 50 from the Story Time library, 25 from our city libraries, and, because we were taking an Art class on Fridays in another city, that entitled us to receive a one-year library pass to that city.  Nonresidents usually have to pay $100 a year for this particularly awesome library.  It has a wall aquarium, a spaceship, a lighthouse to read in, a fake tree to read under, and other wonders. Their limit was only 10 books for him, a few books for me, as well as a few videos.  This beautiful library was across the street from an incredible Paul Revere themed park, where a slide is in the Old North Church, and you enter an island through a covered bridge.  For these reasons, we also began coming to this library and park every week as well.

In adding this up, 50+25+10+15 from home, that equals 100 books MINIMUM each week, minus Christmas week, and minus one week in the summer.  100 x 50 weeks – oh my, that is 5,000 books each year, and we did this for 2 years!  Yes, I was shocked and surprised when I did the math while talking to my brother and realized just how many books we had been reading!

It took us two years to complete the books A-Z in our favorite library with Miss Carol.  Did we read every book in that Children’s Section?  No.  We just read the books I determined that looked good.
Granted, the majority of these books are plentiful with pictures and don’t have lots of words – that is why 25 a day is EASY to do!  But we also did read chapter books, and even 300 page books like the original Pinocchio (for some reason this was his favorite book and we read it twice).

I also began reading the Bible to him when he was six months old.  I’d sit him on my lap and we looked and read baby Bibles, such as (this list can be seen on my website ThriveOnOneIncome.com.)  These books have good morals and interesting stories, including some about famous historical people. These books are among the best to read to children because they help you lay a solid foundation of truth for your child’s entire life.

I also did flashcards with him, beginning when he was 1.  He loved them!  They were picture cards from my local teacher supply store, and I wrote the words on the back.  As he grew older I added more.  We also sang Sunday School songs.

Reading was always a big part of our day.  We began every morning by reading for an hour after breakfast, and we did another hour before bed.  At least four days a week we also did 1 to 2 hours in the afternoon.  This was not a chore for him or me.  I realize today that we have lots of video footage of him dancing to a video, and playing outside or with other people, but none of us reading, because we were alone.  Spending this time with him in a big chair in our front room was very special to us.

For many, many years I read to him a full hour each night before bed (today we still read for about 20 minutes).  Each night when I said, “Bedtime!” he would respond with either, “YAY!” or “Finally!”

He could never go to sleep with all the exciting chapter books I read to him, so when the hour was up I would pull out Robert Louis Stevenson’s, Leaves From A Child’s Garden of Verses. 

This is what I wrote on the flyleaf June 4, 2010:
To my darling little 4 year old,
Each night I read to you exciting stories
that couldn’t possibly put you to sleep.
As your eyelids droop and you fight sleep I say,
“It’s time for poetry.”
You reply with a huge grin on your beautiful face,
“I hate poetry!”
As you listen to the cadence and rhythm, you are gently sent to…
the Land of Nod.
No night out is more important to me than being there to read to my son before bed.  I’ve never missed a night, except when I was sick and couldn’t read – and then, he read to me.
Don’t miss the blessing of reading to your kids.  Be intentional!  Read, read, read!

If I haven’t convinced you, Reader’s Digest had an article in 09-2017 called “Why It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” that gave findings of a survey of 20,000 retirees which showed that people who read more than 30 minutes a day live longer, because reading increases brain power. 
A large vocabulary leads to a more resilient mind by fueling “cognitive reserve.”  This reserve helps your brain adapt to decay or damage.

The article also stated that children as young as 6 months old whose parents read to them several times a week showed stronger literacy skills 4 years later, scored higher on intelligence tests throughout their life, and landed better jobs than nonreaders.

When adults continue to read BOOKS more than 3 hours each week, they live longer than their peers who only read newspapers or magazines.  Why?  Books allow for deep reading.  Often you only skim headlines in newspapers or online.  Reading a book forces you to think critically, and you have to remember connections from chapter to chapter.  Books help you relate to the outside world and promote empathy, and all these things forge new pathways in your brain.  Superior reading and language skills support healthy brain function, protect against brain decay, help promote quicker thinking, increase your empathy, and increase your emotional intelligence!

"The presence of books in the home has a greater influence on a child’s level of education than does the parents’ income, nationality, or level of education" a 20-year study shows. The more books, the better the results. And here are the results from a Scholastic study on reading.

May God bless you as you read beautiful truths in the form of truly good, inspirational books to your children.


What books are your favorites for preschoolers?


  1. Oh Janine, 10,000 books! That's amazing and wonderful, and it's not surprising at all, how much your son (and you!), have benefitted from that in so many ways.
    I LOVED reading to my sons when they were babies and upwards, and it really was the highlight of my day. I wanted to pass on my love of reading to them and I think I have managed to do so.
    We LOVED the Berenstein Bear books, and had many of them!
    Richard Scary's books are wonderful as well.
    Those evenings after bath and snack time were amongst my most treasured memories, and thank you for sharing and perhaps serving a reminder to parents as to how infinitely valuable reading is to a child...
    10,000 books is just a tremendous accomplishment to you both!

  2. Hey Janine! This post is quite inspiring. I'm hoping that I can follow your lead and read a ton of books to my grandkids. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. I know you will, Tiffiney! I can tell by your posts : )


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