July 19, 2021
This is a bittersweet post for me to write.
I absolutely LOVE my position as a math coach now. But my heart aches a bit when I think of all the books I used to read with my students each day.
And not just the novels...I miss our daily picture book read alouds so much.
Hands down, the best decision I ever made was to implement #ClassroomBookADay. This incredible movement was created by Jillian Heise and was inspired by Donalyn Miller's #BookADay. Jillian has an amazing website with TONS of recommendations and information. I learn more each time I visit: heisereads.com
I could write ten blog posts about how much I loved #ClassroomBookADay and the impact it had on my fourth grade students.
Thanks to these daily read alouds, my students routinely:
Every time I run into my former students, one of the first things they always say is "remember when we read...??" and we have the nicest chat about it. BEST feeling ever.
I started preparing for #ClassroomBookADay a couple of summers ago. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed at the time. I knew this was something I didn't want to just implement for a bit and then abandon when things got hectic...and I felt that something like a read aloud would be the thing to get pushed to the side.
Luckily, I learned some things along the way that helped me not only get these daily read alouds launched, but also ingrained as a vital part of our school day.
So I want to share what has worked for our class, in hopes it might help others get it set up...quickly!
Today we'll talk about the following (click on any title to jump right to that section):
Please Note: All Amazon links are affiliate links. Thank you for your support!
As I sat down to start gathering titles for the year, I found myself looking for more books than I currently owned. So I turned to some amazing teachers for their recommendations. These educators helped me find books that were truly meaningful to my students and our classroom community:
#ClassroomBookADay on Instagram
Another great source is to follow is #ClassroomBookADay on Instagram for tons of recommendations.
Book-Sharing Instagram Accounts
Aside from following the hashtag on Instagram, I found some go-to accounts that share so many incredible titles. Thanks to this amazing community, I was able to find texts that were engaging and relevant to my students.
Here are some of my favorite accounts for book recommendations (click each name to see more):
Recording the Titles
When I started gathering titles, I knew this could get expensive. So I started keeping record and noted the books:
I kept recording the titles as I found them in a read aloud tracker I made in Google Sheets. I made the tracker keep count of my books as well. I knew I wouldn't start the year with ALL the books ready to go...but I wanted a good collection to start with:
ORGANIZING THE READ ALOUDS
As I started pulling and purchasing picture books, I set up a special bookcase for them. I wanted these picture books easily accessible for my students, but also separate from the rest of our classroom library.
I chose an area right by our classroom door so the students could talk about the titles while lining up and visitors could see our progress...it worked out really well for us! I also used some other ways to display our books:
I displayed our past read alouds on book stands (shown above) throughout the room. My students ALWAYS wanted to reread them after we shared a title together, so I try to make them easily available.
The bookstands are from Amazon. I love them because they have an extender part on the back for taller books, so they hold picture books nicely.
I also used several floating shelves throughout the classroom to display our daily reads.
These floating shelves are from Amazon and I LOVE them so much!! They made the books very easy for my students to access during Reader's Workshop...and picture books make the most beautiful decor of all, don't they?
PREPARING AND MAINTAINING THE DISPLAY
The other big part of #ClassroomBookADay is the display to keep track of your daily reads.
I kept our display on a bulletin board right above our bookcase. It was amazing to see how quickly it filled up!
I added a sign for the bulletin board so students and visitors would know what the space represented. I used the phrase #BookADay to be a bit shorter and easier for my students to use each day.
I've created a couple of different signs and put them together in a file, so you can print your choice. Please click here to grab a copy: #BookADay Bulletin Board Signs
Creating the Book Covers
The other big part of the display is all those little book covers to show the titles read each day. I printed mine on cardstock so my students could handle them (without crushing them, ha!). I also added a circle on each cover to make a place where we could write the number as the book was read.
This worked really well for us and gave my students the chance to manage the board, rather than me printing the covers with a number already typed in ahead of time. I love the ownership this creates...plus it's less work for me!
Here are the steps I followed to create the covers:
Step 1: Grab the Screenshots
I used screenshots of the books from Amazon. I put each cover in a PowerPoint slide and set the height to 3.25 inches, so they would have a consistent size when I printed them.
I lined up the covers so they would be easy to cut out.
Step 2: Add Circles for the Daily Count
I added a little circle to each one for a place to record the book number. I didn't add the number ahead of time. This way, my students could write the numbers as they managed our display.
I set the circle to 0.75 inches and placed it on a part of the cover that didn't hide the title, author, or illustrator.
Step 3: Use the Color Picker Tool
Then I used the little color picker tool from Powerpoint and chose a color from the book cover, so it wouldn't distract from the beautiful design too much.
Storing the Book Covers
I sorted our little book covers in an index card box by title so we could find them easily as we read them. This is the kind of summer work I LOVE to do because it makes teaching life so much easier during the year! With the book covers all organized, my students could grab them and add to the display each day.
The little book cover organizer is from Amazon...it ships from the UK but offers free shipping. That's the one I used because I loved the look, but there are a ton of index card organizers to choose from.
I have a few little signs for this organizer to share. Please click here: Book Tracker Box Label
STAYING ON TRACK
So this was my biggest fear in starting #ClassroomBookADay.
I worried with the typical demands of the year from special events to state testing to new programs...that somehow, my #ClassroomBookADay would be the thing to fall to the wayside.
I was determined to NOT let this happen.
And I found there were a few things that really helped me stay on track:
1. Build the Daily Read Alouds into the Schedule
Before school even began, I carved out 20 minutes in our daily schedule for #ClassroomBookADay. It was there on our front whiteboard board every day, a non-negotiable.
2. Make a Plan for the Read Alouds
Just like adding it to our schedule, I found creating a place in my planbook also held me to this important time each day:
(you can read more about this planbook setup here)
3. Be Flexible with Titles
I usually planned ahead for book titles...but sometimes we'd just be having a day (I know you know what I mean). So I would pull out a really funny title instead to lighten the mood. Other days, an issue might arise that would warrant a more serious, community-building read aloud.
Being flexible allowed these read alouds to become truly meaningful to my students. They would NEVER let me off the hook because they enjoyed this time so much...and this kept me accountable.
4. Keep a List of Books
I know this probably sounds crazy but once I was running with the read alouds I would sometimes forget which titles we had read (maybe I'm getting old...is it just me?).
I would just find myself planning on the weekend and wondering, "had we read this one yet?".
So I used the read aloud tracker to keep a checklist of all of our titles. This was a godsend in planning out the next read alouds as well. Plus, it kept a count of how many books we had read so I could make sure we were right on track:
RESOURCES TO GET STARTED
Ok, that was a lot! Just in case you missed anything reading through the post, I've compiled the resources shared here as well:
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post! I truly hope it helps you save lots of time if you are setting up daily read alouds this year.
Is this something you will be trying for the new school year?
Or have you tried #ClassroomBookADay before?
Please share your favorite tips with us!