Create a Literacy Rich Home-6: “Books-I-Read”


Here’s an idea to add to your literacy activities for kids: Have you ever wanted to know how many books you or your kids have read in a month or a year? Did you ever get stuck trying to think of the exact title of a book, or the author?

Since nowadays the titles and author names of books you check out of the library are printed on the return slip (at least in the public libraries around me), just keep that slip!

My memory is fallible, so for a few years now, I’ve kept a “Books I Read” list in the “My Treasures” section of my Way to Go! Family Learning Journal three-ring-binder. I never put much energy or time into this; I record date, author, and title.

Sometime I put a note if there were something significant I wanted to remember (like a quote from the book); sometimes I put a 1—10 rating on how good I thought the book was.

And believe it or not, I’ve referred to this list, especially when I wanted to recommend a book and couldn’t remember the author. I wish I had three kinds of lists from the days when I raised my daughter—books we read together, books I read on my own, and books she read.

She’s a mom now and we talk about these things occasionally—“Do you remember if we read The Celestine Prophecy aloud as we drove across country when you were in high school—I think we didn’t love it, right?” and “Did we ever finish Tess of the D’Urbervilles? Or did we both cry so hard we decided to complete it separately?”

Thanks to computers, now there’s a simple way to create such lists: just hang on to the library checkout tape. The trick is to put this slip where you and your kids can find it again (like in a binder). Keep adding to it over the months and years. (Of course, you may still also want to keep a written list of books purchased, or borrowed, since you don’t have a library receipt for them. Also, if you have comic book and magazine readers in your family, why not add those titles on the lists, too.)

Another idea is to have your kids paste or tape the computerized lists on three-hole-punched paper so there’s room for comments. It’s easy to add a 1-10 rating right on library printout: Try using a scale that’s 10 for All-Time-Favorites-to-Read-and-Reread and 1 for Couldn’t-Get-into-It, and the range in-between.

It’s a challenging, thoughtful exercise to rate a book; a child who does that frequently over time can develop a sophisticated awareness of his or her own interests, values, tastes, and growth. And it’s certainly a way to Plus It with an individual or shared reading experience.

Like watching the growing balance in a savings account that gets regular deposits, it’s satisfying to see a “Books I Read” list get longer and longer. And I’d say its value far exceeds anything in a bank, for it represents lasting, often thrilling, deposits to the mind and imagination.

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