But how do you do it?
Today’s post is in response to our book study of The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. In the comments of Scott’s post on Chapter 1 there was some great discussion that included questions about how to get books into the homes of children. We all work in different situations; some of our parents have plenty of books in the home and others do not.
Take Home Books Program
However, just because a home is filled with books doesn’t mean that reading aloud is taking place. I have always been a big proponent of reading at home but it was a challenge for me as a teacher to a) send books home quickly and easily and b) actually get parents to read the books to their children.
The biggest obstacle I encountered was making the checkout process quick and painless. Who has time at the end of the day to stand around and write down who is taking which book home? Certainly not me! The second obstacle was to make sure the read aloud process at home was positive and productive, see my story about Cherise in our discussion of Chapter 2.
Here is my easy peasy teaching hack for making the book checkout process in preschool or kindergarten quick and painless.
5 Steps for Creating an Easy Book Checkout System in Your Classroom
Step 1: Hanging bag stand and bags
Step 2: Select books to send home that you have read aloud to the class and are of high interest to the children
Step 3: Neon index cards and book pictures
Step 4: Poster board and library pockets
Step 5: Instruction sheet specific to each book
Step 1: I got my book stand and bags for free from my school library when they were “getting rid of” all their books on tape and transitioning to a digital system. If you’re not as lucky there are many places on-line you can find the same thing, I have included a link to one source for you below. You could probably easily make a stand like this using PVC pipe too; it’s on my bucket list.
Step 2: I find almost all of my books at garage sales, library sales, thrift stores, and of course I use my Scholastic book order bonus points.
Step 3: I found an image of each book online using Google image search, then I printed, cut and glued each image to a neon colored index card and laminated the cards. This way the cards aren’t easily lost inside the pages of the book and can be quickly spotted.
Step 4: I glued one library pocket (or you can use envelopes, see my tutorial here) for each child to a poster board. I also included the name and picture of each child on each pocket; I used address labels for this.
Step 5: In each bag I include the book, matching index card, and instruction sheet for parents specific to that book.
How it works
Once you have your system set-up you will need to train the kids how to use it. At the end of each day I call them up two at a time to select a book to take home. They reach into the bag and remove the index card and place it in their library pocket on the poster board. That’s it!! When they come back the next day they remove their book from their backpack and take the index card out of their pocket and place it back in the bag, and hang the bag up. I told you it was easy peasy!
Out of necessity I created read-aloud instruction sheets for the most popular titles in my classroom such as No David, Pinkalicious, Llama Llama etc. If you’re interested you can read all about what is included in these two packets here. They also include a parent contract, reminder notes for late books, and a program certificate.
Of course, just sending the books and instruction sheets home isn’t always the end of the problem. It’s also important to offer some kind of face-to-face training for the parents, such as a “Family Literacy Night“.
This is what has worked for me in my classroom for many years, different things work for different people. Sometimes people will tell me that they tried this method but the kids “forgot” to put the cards back or they didn’t return the books. My solution to any problem that involves kids and parents “forgetting” is to stop and review the procedures.