DAY 1: Book It!

~Our 19 DAY JOURNEY of inspiration, activities, and resources begins TODAY!~

“Let your child see books at least as often as he sees toys and television.” -Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook

Once upon a time, I was the fairy godmother in a children’s production of Cinderella. Along with my amazing costume (that my mom made from scratch), I sported ‒I kid you not‒ a toilet plunger for my wand. If I had that bedazzled, frou-frou spewing plunger with me today and could Bibbidi-bobbidi-BOO one magical spell over the American family, I would Bibbidi-bobbidi-BOOK it! Ok, I guess I could also throw in a few rolls of toilet paper while I’m at it…. I mean, it is a toilet plunger wand after all. “Booking It” would be my top recommendation bar none for any parent or caregiver, especially during this season!

From an educational standpoint, the evidence for reading out loud to your kids (and having your kids witness your own reading) continues to top the charts for academic success. Countless studies and research documents present a very strong case across the board: success in reading is the single-most determining factor in doing well in school, graduating, and being a successful and positive member of society. In other words, learning to read (and hopefully learning to love it as well), is the most important thing we can cultivate in our children! If you are skeptical‒ as you should be!– I highly recommend reading the information and research for yourself as presented in the truly inspired and enjoyable read: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

read aloud books

WHAT TO READ TO YOUR KIDS? TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL READING TIME? Read on.


o Picture Books for all ages!

Abandon the antiquated notion that picture books are only for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Picture books do not have an age limit and are particularly valuable for kids who are reticent to read or to be read to. Illustrations can truly work magic for reluctant readers. Just be sure to pick out titles that are on grade and interest level, oh… and of good quality. In Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook as well as Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family, there are amazing lists of picture books for all ages. Here’s my personal mini lists (all tried, tested, and treasured) by age to get you started:

Ages 0-3

  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Moon, Margaret-Wise Brown
  • Sandra Boynton books
  • P.D. Eastman books
  • I am a Bunny, Ole Risom
  • Spot Lift-the-flap books, Eric Hill
  • Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell
  • Helen Oxenbury books
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen

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Ages 3-6

  • Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion
  • Robert Mccloskey books (especially Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings
  • Curious George books, H.A. Rey
  • Bill Peet books
  • Gail Gibbons books
  • David Shannon books (especially Too Many Toys and Duck on a Bike)
  • Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson
  • Little Bear books, Else Holmelund Minarik
  • Eric Carle books
  • Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train, Sherri Duskey Rinker
  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear, Nancy White Carlstrom
  • Chris Van Allsburg books (especially The Polar Express and Two Bad Ants)
  • Virginia Lee Burton books (especially Choo Choo and The Little House)
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
  • Little Golden books
  • Pumpkin Jack, Will Hubbell
  • Library Lion, Michelle Knudsen
  • Paul Galdone books
  • There’s no such thing as a Dragon, Jack Kent
  • The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen
  • Oxcart Man, Donald Hall

Ages 6-9

  • Aesop’s Fables, Jerry Pinkney
  • Bugopedia and Dinopedia, National Geographic Kids
  • One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder, Robert Mccloskey
  • Bill Peet books
  • Patricia Polacco books
  • Brian Floca books
  • Melissa Sweet books (especially Bug in a Vacuum)
  • Chris Van Allsburgh books (especially Polar Express and Two Bad Ants)
  • Maps, Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
  • Amelia Bedelia books, Peggy Parish
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Judi Barrett
  • Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Rudyard Kippling as adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
  • Holling Clancy Holling books (especially Paddle to the Sea)
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, Eileen Spinelli
  • Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney

Ages 9 and up

  • Bugopedia and Dinopedia, National Geographic Kids
  • David Macaulay books (especially The Way Things Work Now and Castle)
  • Brian Floca books (especially Locomotive, Moonshot, and Lightship)
  • Melissa Sweet books (especially Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White)
  • Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst
  • Holling Clancy Holling books (especially Paddle to the Sea)
  • Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, Eileen Spinelli
  • Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney

o Read Aloud Novels…. again, for all ages!

According to the education report entitled Becoming a Nation of Readers, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”

I can personally vouch for this claim. When I started teaching middle school my first year, most of the students were singing anthems of war against reading; students who hated to read, struggled to read, and ‒worst of all‒ couldn’t read. As a first-year teacher, I hadn’t a clue what to do. So, I did what I knew, that is, what had been done for me when I first learned to read: I read out loud to 7th and 8th graders. Some of my coworkers thought it was absurd. And I have to admit, so did I to an extent. But it was the only thing that actually worked to entice my students to read on their own. Because getting students to want to read is, in my opinion, most of the battle. And then the scores came in. Only then did I actually start looking into the research on reading and found what a happy accident I had made.

In addition, I have found no better way to connect with my students or my own children than to read out loud to them. Of course, it is easier the earlier you start, but I highly encourage you to embark on your read-aloud journey, whatever your child’s age! If your child is already a teenager and pushes back on this idea (which he or she very well may) try skipping ahead to the next section: audio books. Listening to an audiobook together may be just the ticket.

“Few things bring people together as closely as regular visits to the barnyard with Fern and Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web).” ‒Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook

charlotte - Copy

What novel should I read aloud to my kid(s)? Again, in Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook as well as Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family, there are amazing lists for novels to read aloud across the grades so you can be sure to pick only the best. Here’s my personal mini lists (all tried, tested, and treasured) by age to get you started. In bold are my absolute first picks if I had to choose… which is hard when you are a book nerd! Happy, happy reading. Please note! Some kids will be ready for the age grouping ahead of them and others for the age group previous. Every child’s reading development is different. The most important thing is that they are being read to at whatever level they are ready for. Also, I picked titles that I believe to be of appropriate content by age. Please read ahead to ensure appropriateness for your child.

Ages 0-4

Stick with picture books only, for most children. Some may be ready for a first chapter book by age three or four. If that is the case, skip to the next age group.

Ages 4-6 

Keep reading picture books as well! Not every four or five year-old will be ready for chapter books. There is nothing wrong with sticking with higher level picture books as attention-span-conditioning for chapter books.

  • My Father’s Dragon, Ruth Stiles Gannet
  • Gooseberry Park, Cynthia Rylant
  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
  • Stuart Little, E.B. White
  • Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Boxcar Children, Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Winnie-the-Pooh and House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne
  • The Cricket in Times Square, George Selden
  • Mouse and the Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary

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Ages 6-8

If your child has not been read aloud any chapter books before, I recommend starting with the above list.

  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Richard and Florence Atwater
  • Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Little House on the Prairie and the entire series, Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  • Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
  • Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
  • Kenny and the Dragon, Tony DiTerlizzi
  • Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (I highly recommend an illustrated version)
  • The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Incredible Journey, Sheila Burnford

Ages 8-10

If your child struggles to comprehend being read to from these titles, simply refer to the previous list. It is better for your child to understand and enjoy what you are reading than it is for them to master more advanced content that he/she is not ready for.

  • The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
  • Kenny and the Dragon, Tony DiTerlizzi
  • Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain (I highly recommend an illustrated version)
  • The Hundred Dresses, Eleanor Estes
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Scott O’dell books, particularly Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Boy Called Christmas, Matt Haig

Ages 10-12

If your child struggles to comprehend being read to from these titles, simply refer to the previous list. It is better for your child to understand and enjoy what you are reading than it is for them to master more advanced content that he/she is not ready for.

  • A Single Shard, Linda Sue Park
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Barbara Robinson
  • Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare
  • My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George
  • Heidi, Johanna Spyri
  • The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain
  • Louisa May Alcott books, Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys

Ages 12-14

If your child struggles to comprehend being read to from these titles, simply refer to the previous list. It is better for your child to understand and enjoy what you are reading than it is for them to master more advanced content that he/she is not ready for.

  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • The Hobbit, Tolkien
  • Hatchet, Gary Paulsen
  • Call of the Wild, Jack London
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry

novels bigs

Ages 14 and up

If your child struggles to comprehend being read to from these titles, simply refer to the previous list. It is better for your child to understand and enjoy what you are reading than it is for them to master more advanced content that he/she is not ready for.

  • And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyal
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Tolkien
  • The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexander Dumas (the abridged 71 chapter version is my recommendation or a slightly more abridged version)
  • The Scarlett Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • Charles Dickens books, particularly David Copperfield and Oliver Twist
  • The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe

o Audio Books (your new best friend!)

Never before have we had such a treasure trove of literature at the click of a mouse or swipe on one of our many devices. Our family is always listening to audio books: at meals, at nap or rest times, in the car, even on an airplane! Audiobooks are such an easy and effective way to expose our kids to twice or triple the amount of literature that we could possibly read to them ourselves given our busy schedules. Plus, if you are working from home right now, an hour of audiobook time for your kids could give you an hour of focused productivity. I highly recommend you give them a try! But I encourage you, do not sacrifice the amazing experience of actually reading aloud yourself with your child as much as you can… unless you have teenagers who refuse, in which case audiobooks may be your best bet. I ADORE reading to teenagers; it was my favorite part of teaching middle school. Albeit, I had them as a very captive audience. (But, hey… you may have a captive teen yourself in this season!) They probably won’t all admit it, but they love it too. There are also hundreds of picture books on audio for little ones to follow along to their favorites! Simply search for your favorite titles!

Where can I find audiobooks? And which ones should I choose?

  • Hoopla Digital (often offered free through a library membership which you can sign up for online through your library homepage… it’s awesome!)
  • CDs
  • Audible on Amazon Prime
  • Stories.audible.com (offering FREE audiobooks and stories during Covid19!)
  • For titles, refer to the titles listed above in the novels section.

o Comic Books and Graphic Novels

WAIT. Are comic books really educational? Can they even be considered reading? The research says YES. According to Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook: one study showed that more top students (nearly 100 percent) in all grades read more comics or comic books than did lower-ranking students.” Oh, and also, THEY ARE FUN. And I think we could all use some of that right now. Tell your kids it’s time for reading, and then hand them a comic book! You may win some parent points for that one. And I think we could all use some of those right now, too! Just me?

comic
Toon Books, “Patrick and his Peas”

My top picks for comic books & graphic novels for every age: (please note: this list is limited as I do not spend as much time with comics as other literary forms. I did not include superhero comics of which there are many, many choices. You can easily find top-ranked comic books for varying age levels online. Be careful of content; there are a lot of inappropriate comics out there these days. Wow, that made me sound old.

Ages 0-4 

Any board or picture book that features speaking or thought bubbles is a great way to begin teaching the “language” of comics and graphic novels to your little one. You can look through your child’s personal library and usually find a few. Some examples:

  • Spot lift-the-flap-books, Eric Hill
  • Sandra Boynton books

Ages 4-6

  • The Monster at the End of this Book, Jon Stone
  • Toon Books (so many great titles and level 1s and 2s are absolutely perfect for beginning readers)

Ages 6-8

  • Toon Books by various authors (so many great titles and level 3s and 4s are great for advancing readers)
  • Peanuts, Charles Shultz

Ages 8-12

  • Peanuts, Charles Shultz
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a graphic novel by Jeff Kinney
  • Garfield, Jim Davis
  • Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
  • The Adventures of Tintin, Georges Remi
  • How to Train Your Dragon, a graphic novel by Cressida Cowell

Ages 12-14

  • Garfield, Jim Davis
  • Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
  • The Adventures of Tintin, Georges Remi
  • Archie, Bob Montana and John L. Goldwater
  • This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (for girls, one I have not read yet but it has received amazing recognition)

Ages 14 and up

  • Garfield, Jim Davis
  • Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
  • Archie, Bob Montana and John L. Goldwater
  • This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (for girls; one I have not read yet but one that has received amazing recognition)
  • Far Side, Gary Larson

easter

o Magazines and Newspapers

These count as reading, too? YES. In addition, magazines and newspapers can be particularly valuable for children who are struggling or reticent readers. Sports-loving boys, for example, who according to research often show a strong aversion for reading, can often be enticed with a magazine such as Sports Illustrated (not including the swimsuit edition, sorry boys). Researcher Dr. G. Kylene Beers followed and interviewed two seventh grade classrooms in order to uncover various clues and keys to literacy. Among her findings of the importance of a text-rich environment, Beers isolated a few standout factors that can entice reluctant or struggling readers:

  1.  free choice in reading material
  2. access to nonfiction as well as fiction
  3. access to books with more illustrations (picture books, graphic novels, comic books, and magazines)
  4. reading books that have been made into movies and being allowed to watch the movie prior to reading the book 
  5. having books read aloud to them start to finish
  6. access to more magazines

Read your child a section of the newspaper or show him or her the sections of the paper. If your child is older, sit together and share a newspaper. Let your son or daughter read the sports or comics section while you read the politics. Subscribe to a magazine that is of particular interest to your child. There are lots of options that can be subscribed for on amazon prime! Anything from nature to sports to model trains, I can almost guarantee there is a magazine subscription to entice your kid(s).


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o Tips for BOOKING-IT with success

  1. Allow your child a part in helping to choose the reading material.
  2. Set up a “Cozy Corner” or reading nook where reading together will take place each day.
  3. Set up a regular time or times each day that you will spend reading together (such as before/during a meal, after a meal, before bed).
  4. Get into character! Use character voices and read with expression!
  5. Serve food or beverages as a part of a reading time ritual. In our family, it’s tea. If your kids are hesitant about reading time, a special beverage or snack will certainly help entice them.
  6. Turn your phone off. If you become distracted, or take a call, or answer a text, reading time is over.
  7. Turn off the tv, radio, or anything making noise.
  8. Read outside! (if possible)
  9. Give your child something mindless to do with their hands if they get bored or fidget or are uncomfortable in any way (such as coloring, painting, drawing, beading, crafting, play-doh, sewing/samplers, etc.)
  10. Keep a journal with your child of all the books you read together, and star or heart the favorites.blues23

o Where can I get books while I can’t access my public library?

  1. Start with what you already have; sometimes we forget what resources are in our own homes! At least I do!
  2. Used books on Amazon! If you don’t already know how to find them: type whatever book you are looking for, and then below the “new” price there is a smaller print “used” books option. I LOVE this option. I buy a few used books a month on Amazon, for usually $4 or $5 dollars for a nearly perfect condition book.
  3. Project Guttenberg has over 61,000 FREE books you can download! http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/
  4. Ebay.com

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Leave a comment with what you are reading or listening to with your kids today!

BOOK ON! BOOK STRONG! Happy, happy reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

9 Replies to “DAY 1: Book It!”

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