Books in our home.
September 15, 2011

In spring this year I took a break from reviewing children’s books because my family was trying out a new reading system and I wanted to find the balance in my own home before diverting any attention to writing about books.

At the time, Charlotte was clearly overwhelmed by our picture book selection.  I tried limiting the number of books she had to only a dozen, the same dozen, day in and day out, and I saw noticeable improvement in her attitude toward story-time but after about two weeks my brain exploded.

So I tried rotating through our books – a dozen one week, a dozen the next week – but after a week of reading the same books all the time my daughter refused to try out the new dozen books and after about two weeks my brain exploded.  And so it went.  Every time I tried something out, it either backfired or my brain exploded or both.

Then, a couple months ago, I struck gold.

I wish I had a fancy schmancy name to reveal to you, but right now I just call this the highly technical term of Book Rotation.  The books in the image are the books in our current daytime rotation.

Our rotation works like this: we have a few books in one place and every couple weeks I pull a few out and replace them.  Like I said: it’s highly technical.

After I introduced the rotation, a reader sent me a video clip of story-time in her home with one of the books she’d won.  (Which reminds me, Ellie and Tracy, if you’re reading this, your books have arrived at my home and I should be sending them to you before the week is over).  Anyway, her story-time was AWESOME!! – it was like watching a library story-time.  I’m not sure why it had never occurred to me to take some of the story-time ideas I’ve liked at other places and incorporate them into my home routine, but after watching her video clip I was determined to make it happen.

Adding a little structure and variety to our story-times has made a world of difference.  Our story-times now have a distinct beginning and end.  We start by laying down a blanket and we aren’t finished until we’ve folded the blanket up again.  Charlotte really likes this.  We also sing songs, especially songs we can act out, and recite poems.  Charlotte has several dozen songs and rhymes memorized in their entirety now.  It’s pretty awesome.  And I have also begun to incorporate good old-fashioned no-books-involved storytelling.

Last but not least, I have started asking Charlotte to tell me stories.  At the beginning of story-time, I ask her to tell me one of yesterday’s stories.  Sometimes she tells me about a book we read, but nine times out of ten she’ll relay the story I told her without a book.  After each book or story, I ask her what happened in the tale.  At the end of story-time, I talk with her about stories from our life.  The story of how she was born, a story about what we did last week, a story about her aunts and me when we were little.  I try to make the stories very repetitive and predictable and along the way I ask her to help me tell the story.

Right now, the daytime rotation is in its early days and there are still plenty of kinks that I’m trying to work out, but overall Charlotte and I are both enjoying story-time much more.  Reading is back on track in our home and I am really looking forward to seeing where we go from here.


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  1. By Sarah on September 15, 2011

    great idea. every two weeks, I do Montessori type bins in our “art room” and they always have a theme (outer space, farm animals). I only pull out the books having to do with the subject. This works fine for my older 3 but my 22 month old has yet to even ask me, on her own, to read to her. I am going to try this today and see if it encourages her.

  2. By Sarah Christensen on September 15, 2011

    Sarah - I’m not super familiar with Montessori yet.  I love the theme idea - we’ve been slowly moving in that direction, but haven’t got it all worked out yet.  But what are Montessori type bins?  Do they categorize all their books by subject?

  3. By Sarah on September 15, 2011

    Well, most Montessori “classrooms” use trays, but we had a toy bin that was not being used, so I use it. A great montessori site is http://livingmontessorinow.com/
    I like a lot of their concepts. They focus more on one subject or one type of task or skill at a time. It is also very child led, which I like. I just try to incorporate it into our daily activities and my kids have really responded. One of my favs was a bin where I put some plastic farm animals, a nail brush, a bowl, a small bottle of water, a small bottle of baby shampoo and a washcloth. the kids had to wash the animals. THEY LOVEd IT!! I have the bins I have done posted on my FB page

  4. By Megan on September 15, 2011

    Love the new story time routine.  And, LOVE the pictures of your family.  Your dad reminds me of one of my college professors, and your mama is so pretty!

  5. By on September 17, 2011

    I love books and stories and we have been trying, lately, to find a special way to read them, too.

    Also, I looked at the first picture of Charlotte and she always looks so big but without seeing her whole face Oh.  My.  She looks SO BIG!!
    What a beauty.

  6. By Clare on September 18, 2011

    I was just thinking about you and your books today. My daughter is 3 months old and we have finally stopped traveling for a while and are settling at home and I am starting to read to her more regularly.  Because I work and my husband is the stay at home care giver it is hard for me to have a specific routine.  But, I have found a book she loved—- even though it is a bit for older than her.  It is called “on the day your were born”.  Not sure if you have read it, but for some reason when I did, I thought of your blog. It is also my newest favorite book.


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