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Write it down

Posted by Susan on January 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM in Recommendations
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What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

I recently asked my friends this question, and got an incredibly varied response. It ranged from Harry Potter to the Berenstain Bears. From Little House in the Big Woods to Captain Underpants. From Raggedy Ann to Star Wars. From Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever to Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. (Okay, so that last one didn't have a lot of range.)

One of the fun things about the summer reading program at my library is that the kids get a reading log to record all the books they read that summer. It's so fascinating to see their lists. Some kids read the minimum number of books they need to receive the prize. Others fill up the whole log. Some kids even attach extra pieces of paper to their lists. Regardless of how long or short the list is, every time I look at one, I get a sense of who that child is.

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could look back at a list of books your child (or you) read? Not just over the summer, but for the whole year? How about if you could see the titles of all (or most) the books they read while they were growing up? Can you imagine what a priceless gift that would be to both you and your child?

It doesn't matter if your journal looks like this:

Book of Kells.jpg

or this:

legal pad.jpg

or this:

good reads.gif

It doesn't matter if you arrange it by day (for picture books) or by date the book was finished (for chapter books) or by year. (However you do it, I recommend numbering your entries).

It doesn't matter if you include just the title, date and author in your entry. Or if you write down your kid's reactions to the book such as "Emily loved putting her fingers through the holes of everything the hungry caterpillar ate." Or "John just wanted to find Goldbug on each page." Or "Jennifer didn't like the part with the Wicked Witch of the West."

The only thing that matters is having one. How do you make that happen?

Step 1: Answer the question that was at the top of this post: What book(s) did you you read to your kids last night? What book did your kids read to themselves? What book did you read?

Step 2: Write it down.

Step 3: Repeat daily.

I'd love to see what you and your kids did read last night. Please comment!


Lara Ivey writes...

Great advice, Susan! Make it fun and be sure to do it with your child. I'm currently re-reading LOVE, son just finished re-reading THE LIGHTNING THIEF so he can be ready for the movie, and my daughter just read MINNIE and MOO WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE?!!!!! Now I just need to get them to write it down. Maybe it could be in a "Blessings Book." Writing about all that you are blessed with...the ability to read and the gift of a book! Thanks for sharing. :-)

Kristen M. writes...

My son is five and I realized that I don't want to forget what he is reading at this age! So on January 2nd, we bought a wall calendar (a beautiful Andrew Zuckerman Creature one!) and we write down one book that he reads (or listens to) each day and put a sticker on the date. This way he gets the fun of recording his books and getting stickers and I get to have a written record of what he was reading. It also helps keep us on task with our reading goals!

Sadly, we have a blank day for yesterday but tonight we read Kids Go! by They Might Be Giants.

Sarah N. writes...

Last night, we read a chapter of The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia) with my 6yo and Scuffy the Tugboat and 1/2 a chapter of Winnie-the-Pooh with my almost 3yo. I love being able to look back and see what we've been reading. We read so many picture books each day that I haven't kept good track of them but I've written down nearly all the chapter books we've read to my older daughter and now I have a new list of books she's reading herself. I listed all the books we read in 2009 here on my blog:

Rebecca Reid writes...

I recently started doing this with my son (age 2) so I can remember which books he loves. Last night we read The Little Engine that Could, The Little Red Caboose, and Trains by Patricia Hubbell. Notice a theme?

Jim writes...

We read some Mo Willems Elephant & Piggie books. She reads Piggie and we take turns reading Gerald. We use her stuffed pig and elephant of course and all laugh our heads off. I also got to read her Mem Fox's new The Goblin and the Empty Chair which we all just loved. The illustrations are fantastic.

Karen Kelter writes...

I have been keeping a list of the books I read since 2004 because I sometimes forget later if I have read a book I see. My list is on "notebook" on Yahoo. I also have a list of books I want to read. I have two small grandsons, and I do love reading to them; they like books and love being read to.

Lauren writes...

My five-year-old and I both read "The School Skeleton" from Ron Roy's A to Z Mystery series. My eight-year-old can't put down each of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

Jen Robinson writes...

What a great idea, Susan! I would love to have the list of all the books I read as a child.

I just finished re-reading A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle.

My Boaz's Ruth writes...

The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (one of his favorite all-time books!)
Duckie's Ducklings: a one-to-ten counting book by Frances Barry
Snowmen at Night by Carolyn Buehner
Silly Litte Goose by Nancy Tafuri
Itsy Bitsy Spider by Kate Toms
Daniel in the Lion's Den in the Bible

As for a journal... I wish my mom remembered some of my favorite books growing up, but I can't imagine being interested in reading a day by day log of what books were read each day.

sari writes...

Mr. Popper's Penguins (11 and 8 year olds) and Max Counts his Chickens (2-year old).

Ceane Willis writes...

My daughter (12) read "Moving Day" (Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls), we read Terry Pratchett's "Nation" aloud together in preparation for seeing it broadcast live from the National Theatre this weekend, and I read Hallie Ephron's "Never Tell a Lie" after hearing her speak at our local library yesterday evening.

I love the idea of having a record of everything we read, but I fear that the process of writing it down could start to feel burdensome--we've started lists a few times but never kept it up. I used to hate it when teachers required her to keep a reading log--who wants to hop out of bed after cozily reading and fill out a form?

Abby writes...

I don't have any kids, so I can't answer your question, but I CAN point out that keeping a list together is a GREAT way to encourage the writing part of literacy. Your children learning to write will get great practice (as well as a sense of accomplishment) if they help keep the list. And your young children will see writing as a vital part of life (and something they want to learn how to do) the more they see you do it! Have your kids add to the list once in a while by drawing a picture about the story they just read (or the story you just read together). That's another great way to encourage early literacy skills.

Lynn writes...

This is exactly the thought we had when we started our blog, Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile. We keep a database of all of the books he's read. Over time, I am starting to lose interest in tracking though, I must admit. My husband does the before bed book reading, but I can hear him in there now with "Fluffy Chick and Friends" -- a soft cloth book that my two year old still grabs for some reason, but now points to the words and tries to read them.

Maureen writes...

No kiddies, but I did start reading Lips Touch by Laini Taylor. I keep a sort of reading journal by recording everything at LibraryThing, and I feel as if I remember things better now.

Terry writes...

What a great idea, Susan. Does keeping a monthly list on the blog count ;-) I wish I had kept a list from the beginning.

How cool for Kristen's son that he gets to participate in the process. Abby's point about writing is so great ... even a one-sentence reaction or picture (smiley or sad face) is a great memory jogger.

C read A Light in the Attic ... I got to hear her and Daddy reading together, alternating poems. I was reading Dragon Wishes by Stacy Nyikos

Malissa writes...

I don't have children but I have kept a record of my own reading for the past 7 years. The title and date that I finished the book. It is neat to look back at the list.

Like several others have commented, one of the reasons for writing my blog is to keep track of what I read with my kids, and especially those books that we love. Even more so when we don't have our own copy.

Richard Hanks writes...

We use the Facebook App I'm Reading (, love the social aspect of this.

Gillian writes...

What a great idea.

The books my 22 month old and I read before he was put to bed tonight are still on my bed where I'm sitting: The Little Kitten (Phoebe Dunn), Goodnight Moon, The Very Quiet Cricket, Carl's Afternoon in the Park, Skip to My Lou. If it had been up to him, we would have read more ("Nother un? Book?")

Kimberly writes...

I cannot wait to read Streganona and Blueberries for Sal to my children! My mother has them ready for when I have a child.

Susan writes...

My kids keep a reading log of all the books we listen to in audio-format. It is fun to flip through and see how many we've read! Our current selection is Captain Nobody.

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