Books on the Brain

I’m consumed with books right now. Planning them, finding them (this is harder than it sounds…), gathering them, soon-to-be reading them.

I’ve always had the girls read their individual readers at their own pace and haven’t really worried about it too much. We’ve never really processed them very much because, frankly, when you are teaching four kids you just count on some of them to do certain things on their own. Individual readers fall into that category for me. I make everyone have a one-hour down time after lunch in which they are to read their scheduled reader for a minimum of what I’ve requested. After that they are free to read any book they choose for the remainder of that hour.


This year things will be similar to that with this one big exception: the book journal. I’ve struggled to implement book reports with the girls, but I think I have a good plan for it this year. I gave both of the older two a notebook with an ability-appropriate book report form taped inside. I found the book report forms here. Next to that they will keep a running list of the books they read throughout the year. After they finish each book they will write up a report about it right here in this same notebook. When they complete 5 reports they will choose a reward out of a jar.



That’s where I could use some help. What sorts of things would you consider putting in a reward jar for kids who have done something like this? So far I have two: dinner out and choose a new book at Borders. I need some more creative ideas that aren’t terribly cost prohibitive.

What would you suggest?

Also, speaking of books, one of my biggest problems is organizing all the weekly books we have in a central area. It is not uncommon, indeed, it is very very common to hear me say, “Has anyone seen _____________?” It is too common. I’m hoping this new solution will help us out this year. I’ve gathered all the books for read-alouds and individual reading as well as the book journals and put them in, you guessed it, another covered crate.


And as an added bonus, the crate happens to match my window treatments:


Now then, to finish stringing and hanging the other one that has been draped over my stairs for the last three months…

Also, since we’re on the topic of books, I’ve decided Millie has gotten the shaft in the picture book department. By the time she was on the scene we’d pretty much moved into chapter books as a family and I haven’t done the best job of reading all the great picture books we have to her. So in addition to the scheduled Sonlight reading, I’m adding in two picture books/day of books we already have.

Okay, enough about books. What about my book report jar rewards? I could seriously use your help!


9 thoughts on “Books on the Brain

  1. TulipGirl says:

    One of our rewards is a new book at the Goodwill Bookstore. . . Fits the budget well! *L* What about “Coffee out with Mom”? That would motivate my boys.
    We’re gearing up for school here, too. I like reading your plans. . .


  2. Audra says:

    What came to mind is a day with you doing something special or a day with dad doing something special. Kids like alone time with parents.
    I’ll keep thinking! You are amazing.
    I could never home school….if I did my kids would have to take off their socks to count! 🙂


  3. Sally D. says:

    How about a movie rental of their choice, control of the TV viewing for an evening, new nail polish/lip gloss, afternoon of school at the library, picnic, trip to the playground.
    Just a few off the top of my head.


  4. Michelle says:

    Megan – I’m an office supply freak. I always have been. And the more I like my pen, the better I write. As a kid, I had to have a good pen to write my reports or poetry. I’m not talking Mont Blanc or Cross … a cool looking pen that I like makes me happy. And I would have grabbed it as a reward every time.


  5. Monica says:

    I was thinking ice cream out or dinner of choice at home. I liked Sally’s ideas too.
    Question: my problem with books is finding ones that are worth reading and we’re talking picture books here. I’m disgusted with our library selection, but have found ILL to be my BFF. Where should I begin at knowing which books to request? I have a book list and have been working on that, just curious how you find out about new books to read or classic titles that are hard to find.


  6. Megan says:

    I had a pretty significant collection of good books from my days in the Early Childhood Education department in college. That said, there are many good lists to be found online.
    One of my favorites is that when I find an author I just love, I get my hands on everything they’ve done. I’m usually not disappointed by that.
    You are probably familiar with Honey for a Child’s Heart? She has a blog with helpful thoughts:
    I also just googled this: “good picture books” “margaret wise brown” “eric carl” “ezra jack keats” and found this list:
    You can’t go wrong with the books Sonlight chooses. Here are some:
    Five in a Row makes their booklist available here:
    I have just about every one of these and they are all favorites. The out of print copies can usually be found in the library.
    Etc. Does this help? I’m thinking about posting our favorite picture books as we read through all the ones we own this year. That might help too.


  7. Rachel says:

    Great ideas, Megan!
    In our house, meaningful items for the jar would be:
    – a board game date with Mom or dad
    – a trip out with a parent for a Sonic treat
    – computer time (since our oldest is only 6, this is still a novelty)
    – being able to stay up one hour later than normal on a weekend
    – a dinner and dessert of the child’s choice cooked at home
    – child’s choice of a messy craft (the kind I usually try to avoid b/c of mess)
    – child is excused from a regular chore for a set amount of time
    Thanks! Your post now has me thinking of some of the ways I might be able to motivate my kids for certain things, while not wanting to give external rewards for too many things.


  8. Edi says:

    I may have to steal your book report idea…my concern though is that by turning reading into “work” – my kids will not want to read as much if they know they are going to have to write a report or record the books read. But reading is school and I know I miss out on tons of the stuff they read so I know it would be good to record it all.
    When the library has their reading club in the summer – the kids are willing to read many hours for inexpensive prizes (an ice-cream cone at Sonic)…which makes me think the incentive jar is a good idea.
    I like the suggestion of the reward being computer time…or time playing a video game etc.
    Money seems to work for my kids…wouldn’t have to be a large amount – that way they could save up to buy their own new books…so an added lesson there.


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