Inside: Our best reading resources, including book lists, discussion questions, reading challenges, DIY bookmarks, and more.
“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney
Are you a book lover? Do you want to raise kids who adore books?
If you answered yes and yes, you will love this post.
As you might already know, this time of the year is ripe with book-related celebrations. February is a Library Lovers’ Month. March is National Reading Month. And of course, Dr. Seuss’ Read-Across America Day is on March 2nd.
Today I want to tell you about book-related resources on Kid Minds that might help you celebrate books with your kids and help them grow as readers.
New Book Calendars
You might have already seen my picture book suggestions for each day of the year, but now I have created something extra… beautiful watercolor calendars that you can print and take with you to the library.
Or better yet, hang the calendars on your own walls to inspire you and your children.
The calendars include funny and weird holidays, so you can turn any day into a celebration with your children. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw our Alice in Wonderland cake.
I beg you not to walk away right now if you have older kids and assume your kids have outgrown picture books.
We never outgrow picture books!
- raise important issues (justice, family values, purpose, fairness, kindness, …),
- touch your soul (I can’t tell you how many times I finished reading a picture book with tears streaming down my face. Keep the Lights Burning, Abby comes to mind, and Harry on the Rocks too),
- inspire artistic curiosity (Leo Leonni illustrated his books with textured collages. Patricia Polacco’s style is soft graphite and pen-and-ink drawings. Erin Stead makes use of woodblock printing. Arthur Geisert’s books are illustrated with astonishing copper plate etchings. In other words, picture books are works of art in talented hands, like a painting in a fancy museum).
- train critical thinking skills (what happened? Why did it happen? How could it have been prevented? Was there a point in preventing it? What did we learn from this development?)
- And this brings me to the next section!
I’ve led many discussion sessions, and one thing I’ve learned is that the wrong kinds of questions can kill discussion like a downpour kills a summer picnic.
Kids feel bored. They have better things to do. They are simply not motivated to enter into a discussion with you.
So I put together a list of questions that will inspire your kids to think and talk about books. The very first question requires kids to use their bodies to answer. I heard from librarians who said that they used to ask kids if they “liked” a book, only to hear a bunch of weak “ahems” in return. Now they ask kids to use their fingers (or even jump their reactions to the book), and kids start feeling involved and interested.
Also, I have yet to meet a group of kids who doesn’t feel compelled to say something in reply to,
Does the book talk about what is right or what is wrong?
What happened there on page 7? [Pick something silly or memorable]. I’m confused!
By the way, those discussion questions are suitable for all ages, even teenagers and adult book clubs.
30-day Reading Challenges
Why do challenges work?
They provide a motivational boost, ensure momentum, and are simply fun! Personally, I’m rarely without a 30-day challenge, and I can’t tell you how many of my challenges became a way of living. For example, my meditation challenge led to a daily meditation habit.
So, if your kids love dragons, they might be inspired by our Dragon Reading Challenge. Read a book for 15-minutes a day (or finish a picture book), then color a dragon-themed illustration in our dragon challenge printable. We had lots of fun with this and you will too.
We’ve also done a pirate reading challenge, fairy-tale reading challenge, poetry reading challenge, read around the world challenge, and unique-prompt reading challenge.
Themed Book Lists
Themed Book Lists are fantastic! I’ve been reading 100 books a year since I was 12, which brings me to over 2,000 books, and I can tell you one thing for sure, themed booklists make you an omnivore reader. When you are getting through a list, you get to read books that you would never have voluntarily chosen to read. I call it a Green Eggs and Ham bias. No way! Sounds gross! And yet, despite initial rejection, or maybe because of it, you learn so much.
Just to give you an example: currently, I’m reading all the books on my bookshelves that have a blue cover or spine. My theme is Blue Books. One of the books is on how to have an organized life, another one is written by a Google engineer, and yet the next one is a love novel. None of those books are on topics I would actively seek out, and yet I’m learning a great deal of useful information and having a lot of fun along the way.
One of the easiest ways to catch kids’ attention and have fun reading with them is to choose books that talk about what interests them or can help them find new interests.
Here are some places to start:
Lovely Books to Inspire Kids to Find Their Passion
100 Best Picture Books that go beyond the traditional classics you have probably already read with your kids.
Already have a kid who’s crazed about something in particular?
You can read…
And Books to Inspire Kids to Think Like Scientists
Or Books that are perfect for reading during Women’s History Month (in March)
Picture books can also help kids work through difficult issues, learn how to deal with their emotions, and put them on a path of cultivating useful skills.
The Best Books to Foster Positive Siblings Relationships
The Best Picture Books about Navigating Negative Emotions
Excellent Picture Books to Cultivate the Art of Listening
Picture Books for Kids Who Don’t Like Water
The lists go on …
Do you have a theme in mind that I didn’t cover? Let me know, and I will help you pick some books.
Reading Reward Chart
Do you feel like your kid (or kids) need extra motivation to get started? Not to worry, try the reward chart. (Yes, I did read Punished by Rewards and I maintain my love of charts)
Print the chart and hang it on the wall in a high traffic area. For us, kitchen walls always work. We use gentle painter’s tape, so there will be no markings left on the wall. Use a marker in place of pencils, which might leave scratches on the wall depending on how much pressure your kids use.
At dinner time, invite your kid to record how many minutes they read that day, how many pages, or how many chapters. At the end of the week, add up the numbers and compare them to the goal at the top of the page. If the goal is reached, it’s time for a reward!
Your reward will depend on your child. Is it a trip to the park? Watch time? Dollar amount towards a coveted toy? Later bedtime? What motivates your child?
DIY bookmarks are such a simple craft, but often kids feel so proud to use them. Star Wars Bookmarks are a huge hit with my boys. You can find templates in my library of resources.
My eleven-year-old just mastered the art of making Origami hearts, so that’s her current bookmark. You can find detailed step-by-step instructions in the library as well.
And if your kids love coloring, they might like our Floral Print Coloring bookmarks. That’s what I’m using in my book right now.
And that’s it for today! I’m wishing you an amazing book journey with your kids. And if you try something from the list above, let me know! I really want to know if you found it helpful and what you thought!
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