Our First 3 Days of the Big Book Pile-Up

The first three days of  The Big Book Pile-Up   have been so enjoyable.  It's amazing what a little pre-planning can do for our read aloud time!  Just setting the intention to read aloud more often and with more variety has helped me make it a priority on our day and it feels so good to snuggle in on the couch with my kiddos several times a day!  Even if the rest of our day is super busy, the connection we make in the morning and evening carries us through. Here are a few of the books we've been reading so far....

moon for  walk

Day 1.   I Took the Moon for a Walk  (read a picture book)

We started The Big Book Pile-Up with a favorite of my youngest kids, I Took the Moon for a Walk.  They love the illustrations and the poetic text.  It makes a perfect night-time book and ties in perfectly with our study of the solar system.  I love it when that happens:)

moon book

Day 2.  The Moon Book (read non-fiction)

Day two found us reading The Moon Book.  I have always been a fan of Gail Gibbons.  She has a true gift for bringing non-fiction to life for young learners.  We find ourselves returning again and again to her books.  There is so much information in this picture book that we have decided to re-read a section at a time.

mr popper penguins

Day 3.   Mr. Popper's Penguins (read a Newberry Award winner)

From the first chapter, we fell in love with this book.  It's a really fun read-aloud!  It's funny and moves along at just the right pace.  And the chapters are short, which makes it a perfect book if you can only squeeze in a little bit of reading time.

What is your family reading right now?

The Big Book Pile-Up Printables

There's nothing like fresh, fun paper with lots of blank space to inspire us to fill it up!  I've made a few printables that I hope you will find useful no matter how you decide to participate in The Big Book Pile-Up.  Whether you decide to read a book a day for 30 days or to take a more leisurely pace. Whether you want to tackle the list in its printed order or pick and choose which type of book to read on a particular day, there is a printable for you!  You should be able to click on the page and print it.  If it doesn't work, send me a note and I'll get send you an email with the pages attached.  Happy Reading! Watch your books pile up as you keep track of the books you read together.  This one is two pages so that there's plenty of room in case you read more than one book on a given day!

big book pile up printable 1a

big book pile up printable 2

big book pile up printable 3

3 Tips for Choosing Remarkable Read Alouds

With so many books to choose from, selecting books for read alouds can be overwhelming. Sometimes we can’t seem to find a book that feels right and sometimes we get stuck choosing the same books over and over again because we don’t know where else to look for inspiration. Here are 3 tips to help you choose books that will be a breath of fresh air for your read aloud time. Using these ideas, you will be able to weed out the uninspiring books and allow the remarkable ones to shine through. 1.  Choose books that appeal to you.

It sounds so simple, but there is so much truth to this statement. If you do not particularly like the book you are reading aloud to your children, they will feel it. You will dread the read aloud time and it will likely happen less often. There is no reason why we have to finish reading every book we start. Choosing to stop reading a book is a great discussion starter with our children. What about this book doesn’t appeal to me? Is it the way it is written? Is the plot too slow? Too fast-paced? Are there too many technical terms, which I am not familiar with, but are specific to this book’s setting or plot?

This does not mean that you never step out of your comfort zone. There are times when it is valuable to choose a book that will benefit your children but isn’t one you would necessarily choose for your own enjoyment. This may be the perfect time for a shared listening experience, such as an audio book. Encountering a book together, all as listeners, enriches the read aloud time in a new way, and it also allows our children to see us as the life-long learners we hope for them to be.

2.  Use great book lists to inspire your choices.

I hesitate to include this as a tip for choosing read alouds because it seems that book lists are everywhere, and some are certainly better than others.  Knowing which book lists to use is just as important as choosing the books themselves. And which book list you choose depends on your purpose. If you are looking for the best in picture books, check out the Caldecott list. The best in novels for young people? Take a look at the list of Newberry Winners. If you want to bring more multi-cultural books into your read aloud time, the Batchelder Award list will help. The American Library Association is a great resource for book lists!

Caution: book lists can be addicting! We sometimes find ourselves thinking of it as a check list of books we must read, rather than a list of the very best book suggestions. Don’t be a slave to the list! It is a tool that serves you and your family as you select books for your read aloud time. Use your favorite book lists to guide your selections so that the joy of reading aloud is kindled not extinguished.

3.  Keep the balance between old and new favorites.

When it comes to reading aloud, we may feel like we need to share a new book every time, but this just isn’t the case. If a book is worth reading once, it is worth reading again.  It is no secret that children love to hear their favorite books read over and over again. This repetition allows for the listener to make new discoveries in the book each time. This is especially true with longer chapter books and more complex picture books. Re-reading a book for the third or fourth or fifteenth time is also a great springboard for discussion. There’s a reason why your child loves this book so much and talking about it will bring you closer. Your child will know that you care about what he or she has to say and about what’s important to them.

Reading old favorites is comforting and valuable, but finding some new favorites is important too. Bringing a variety of books to the read aloud time doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take some thought. Are you selecting mostly stories? Add in some non-fiction too. Is your child inhaling books about the solar system? How about adding in a few Greek Myths and starting a discussion about how the planets were named? Or read about the famous moon landing of Apollo 11 in a book like Moonshot. The poetic nature of the text makes this an outstanding non-fiction read aloud, especially for those of us who are typically intimidated by non-fiction.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or challenge yourself to read from a variety of genres and authors. Again, it’s a great place for discussions to start.

Above all, the read aloud time is about more than just books. It’s about relationships. The relationships within our family and our family’s relationship with reading. Always choose what works for your family and leave the rest. Happy Reading!

The Big Book Pile-Up Reading List

Big Book Pile Up large photoThe Big Book Pile-Up came from my desire to get our read-aloud time out of the rut it is in. Our book choices sometimes feel uninspired. Our enthusiasm waning, not because we don’t love reading aloud together, but because reading aloud with a toddler (and this toddler in particular) has its challenges. I am determined not to let this become an excuse. Reading aloud is too important for the intellectual and emotional development of our children to allow ourselves to become apathetic in our attempts. With World Read Aloud Day coming up on March 4th, I decided to give our read-aloud time a kick-start, to bring it from mediocre to the joyful family time I know it can be. Together with my children, we created a list of book categories to introduce or reacquaint us (and you if you choose to join us and I really, really hope you do!) with books of all kinds. Not only will we meet great books and characters and ideas but we’ll get to know each other better through our discussions and just enjoy spending time together. The list of suggestions offers a variety of genres and topics and is meant to be a spring of inspiration. I am not sure how we will approach the list just yet. Will we start at the top? Bottom? Somewhere in the middle? Use it as more of a checklist and read a selection each day? I do know that we will try to read from a variety of sources; picture books, novels, stories from children’s literary magazines, and whatever else we can get our hands-on. We may add other genres or topics that spark our interest or skip the ones that just don’t seem to be working for us right now. The most important thing is that we’ll read together everyday!

We’ve got a trip to the library planned in the next few days and an amazon cart brimming with some books that I want to make sure we read even if we can’t find them at our local library.

Each day I’ll be sharing what we’re reading and how our adventure is going. I hope that you’ll do the same!

Here's the reading list!

  1. Read a picture book
  2. Read non-fiction
  3. Read a Newberry award winner
  4. Read a book about a famous person
  5. Read some poetry
  6. Listen to an audio book
  7. Read a newly published book
  8. Read a book you’ve read before
  9. Read an alphabet book
  10. Read a book about food and cook together
  11. Read a classic book
  12. Read a Greek Myth
  13. Read some Shakespeare
  14. Read a fairy tale
  15. Read a version of the same fairy tale from another country
  16. Read about history
  17. Read about math
  18. Read about nature
  19. Read about friendship
  20. Read from a book by your favorite author
  21. Begin a chapter book
  22. Read a book about art
  23. Read a book about music
  24. Read a rhyming book
  25. Read a book by an author you’ve never read before
  26. Read a book about a science topic
  27. Read a fable, folktale, or tall tale
  28. Read a fantasy
  29. Read a wordless book
  30. Read a book that has won the Caldecott Medal

Happy Reading!

The Big Book Pile-Up

Big Book Pile Up large photo

World Read Aloud Day is March 4th! My family and I have decided to use this day as an excuse (as if we need on :-)) to be more intentional and generous with our read-aloud time together. We already have a solid habit of reading at bedtime, but I have to admit that our daytime reading has been less than consistent lately. Besides that, we have a whole slew of books about a whole bunch of different topics piled up in every room. So for 30 days, beginning on March 4th, we will be choosing a different type of book to read each day. We’ve already started brainstorming a list and it is so inviting!

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing our list and linking up some of our favorite book titles. I’ll also have a few fun printables for keeping track of your books as they pile up! This will be a meaningful way to spend some time together. Discover some new books. Enjoy some old favorites, and make the most of these last days of winter.

Will you join us?

We’d love to share the adventure with you! Make sure you click on the “follow” button on the bottom left-hand side of this page so that you’ll get updates and all the lists and fun stuff! And please share this with anyone you think would enjoy reading with their family. The more, the merrier!