Sunday, September 21, 2014

180 #bookaday Read Alouds

*If you are looking for information on #ClassroomBookADay, please visit the new website with information, links to videos / podcasts / posts, and many recommendations*

Updated July 2017 - See yearly updates at the bottom of this post*

Because our bell schedule was changed in such a way that we were going to have 5 more minutes per class period...

Because my students' feedback at the end of last year overwhelmingly mentioned wanting me to do more read alouds...

Because I know the importance of continuing to read aloud to adolescents...

Because data shows our students need more modeling of strong fluency...

Because I know the power of a picture book...

Because my summer reflection on the previous school year made me realize that I usually started strong with read alouds, but then they tapered off as we got busier throughout the year...

Because I was looking for ways to continue to build a strong and caring community in my classroom...

Because sometimes a picture book can get the message across much better than my talking can...

Because sometimes there are things kids need to hear that a picture book can tell them...

Because I wanted shorter common texts to use as reference points when talking about writing and reading...

Because I believe in the power of a shared experience with stories...

Because it's a valuable use of extra minutes...

Because I can find titles that connect to curriculum needs...

Because you are never too old to read or listen to a picture book...

Because read alouds...

Because picture books...

Because humor...

Because community...

Because caring...

Because empathy...

Because #bookaday...

Because there are 180 days in our school year...

Because of all of that and more, I made a #bookaday goal to read aloud a picture book to my 7th & 8th graders each and every one of the 180 days I will meet with them this year. That doesn't mean we won't be doing other reading also, but we will read at least one picture book every day this school year.

I'm excited to see where this takes us.
After two weeks, I'm already seeing the benefit of what we've been doing... the conversations increase in individual participation and level of talk students refer back to picture book titles my students learn authors and illustrators by name they come eagerly to the floor for read aloud time each day I see students' faces engaged in the story and responding with their whole being I read more and more picture books myself to have a plethora to choose from I find ways to make connections through picture books to what we're learning in class I realize the multitude of stories they will have to pull from later in the year when responding to text I see our display every day, knowing other grade levels also see it, and share the literacy experiences we're having in middle school I sit for five minutes each day, four times a day, and share a reading experience with my students that they likely wouldn't get anywhere else

Our First Three Weeks Read Alouds:
Day 1: My Teacher is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.) by Peter Brown (First Day of School)
Day 2: Flight School by Lita Judge
Day 3: It's a Book by Lane Smith
Day 4: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Day 5: Extraordinary Jane by Hannah E. Harrison
Day 6: Pardon Me by Daniel Miyares  (testing day)
Day 7: Ninja! by Arree Chung  (testing day)
Day 8: 7th gr-Fireboat & 14 Cows for America  8th gr-September Roses & The Little Church That Stood (September 11th)
Day 9: This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris
Day 10: The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds (International Dot Day!)
Day 11: Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen (Picture Day)
Day 12: Little Red Writing by Joan Holub (First Quick Write Day)
Day 13: A Book by Mordicai Gerstein (Genre day)
Day 14: Telephone by Mac Barnett

Next week I'm planning to read I Want My Hat Back & This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett illustrated by Jon Klassen at the start of the week.

Thank you Donalyn Miller for #bookaday leading to the inspiration for this goal in my classroom this year.

*Update September 2015*

The entire year went so well that I'm doing it again!
I also had the opportunity to present a session about my #classroombookaday at nErDcampMI in July. 

The slides from that presentation are below if you want to see more of my thoughts after the whole year of a #bookaday picture book read aloud with my middle schoolers. As with any presentation the first time talking about a topic, there are things I would change for next time, but it's a start.

*Update September 2016*

I was again able to present a session at nErDcampMI in July with my friend, Angie Huesgen, who is an instructional specialist in St. Louis, and adopted classrooms in her school to do #classroombookaday even without her own classroom. 

Though I left the classroom, I still see the power of sharing these picture book stories with students. The 2016 slideshow is below.

*Update June 2017*
Another change in career path has led me back to grad school (again!) for an MLIS and I'll be starting as a K-5 Library Media Specialist this fall. I'm thrilled to be getting back into a school to talk books with kids and get back to #classroombookaday with students as a school librarian!

I often get asked about title recommendations or books I use for #classroombookaday. Here are several places to start to find picture books I would recommend for sharing with students.

  • Pictures of #classroombookaday boards - zoom in to see the book covers
  • My goodreads shelves of my #classroombookaday books from the two years I was in the classroom: 2015-2016 & 2014-2015 (you can see my star ratings for my higher recommended titles)
  • My goodreads shelves of my personal working shortlists of contenders for the WSRA Children's Literature Committee Picture This list: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014
  • My instagram feed where I post most highly rated picture books after I read them
  • The #classroombookaday Twitter feed & (brand new) Facebook page

*Update July 2017*

I was the guest poster at Nerdy Book Club on July 3rd with #classroombookaday & the Power of Shared (Picture Book) Stories, which includes testimonies from many other teachers who have participated in #classroombookaday the last two years. 

 I'm grateful to the Nerdy community for the chance to share and for the support. 

I was honored to be able to present again this year for nErDcampMI Day One on Picture Books Every Day & the Power of Shared Stories.

Join the #classroombookaday community!

With other teachers participating, you can follow the #classroombookaday hashtag on twitter. And, if you're participating in #classroombookaday, join our facebook group!
If you decide to try it, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I think I am in love! I just found your from a link on FB and am so glad I did. I am a writer/blogger and reading specialist (by training- not currently working). I am also the mom of a 6th grader and a 3rd grader. My oldest just entered middle school and I am feeling so very worried about her language arts curriculum. This post has given me hope that there might still be good middle school teachers in her future (if not this year!). I love, love, love what you are doing here. Please keep posting! I just requested all the titles here that we haven't yet read (and some that we will read again!) so that I can do a picture book a day at home. Thank you!

  2. This is amazing, Jillian. I am glad that this idea has taken off in your classroom. Keep us posted!

  3. What a great idea! (well, if it came from Donalyn Miller, that's no surprise). I encourage parents to give older kids access to picture books and encourage "3 Bears Reading" at all ages - some books below their level, some above, and some just right. As an adult who loves kidlit, especially picture books, I think this a wonderful gift you are giving to your students - and to yourself!

  4. I am new to middle school LA (formerly elementary level, then math, now back to my love LA) and struggling with fitting it "all" in! So how much time are you allotting to read aloud? I love the idea!

    1. Fitting it all in is always a struggle! I am aiming for just using the five minutes, but depending on the book and discussion, sometimes we go a bit longer.

  5. I had great success using picture books to help my ninth graders learn story and literary elements. They are easier to see and identify in picture books, and they were able to transfer that knowledge to their grade-level texts. When they were stumped, I nudged them with, "Remember in _Norma Jean, Jumping Bean_?"--and they remembered! Use of picture books spilled over into writing, too, to the extent that I wrote a book about it: Teach Writing to Older Readers Using Picture Books, Linworth (their title--"older readers" means MS/HS)

  6. This is just amazing. As a seventh grade teacher, (Year 8 in New Zealand) I am very inspired. I would love to do this with my class. Do you still have time for a class novel/ novel read aloud as well or is this instead?

    I always love your book recommendations too and have purchased huge numbers of books for my class library based on what your learners have recommended.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you! I am finding that I don't seem to have time right now for a novel read aloud, but my students are independently reading 15 minutes at the start of every class also, then the picture book read aloud, which leaves about 45 minutes for the day's lesson (workshop format). I do plan on trying to fit in a novel read aloud later in the year once our routines are more engrained and we're past our required science fair research project.

    2. Mrs. Heise- I absolutely want to do this next year! I am replying to this feed because I have a similar question to Bridget and I saw your comment was from 2014. With more experience and time to implement this project, have you been able to figure out if it is possible to still do a class novel read aloud as well? Thank you!

    3. Hi Natasha, Yes, I did find I was able to still do novel read alouds. It wasn't every day/month depending on what we were doing in our units, and I was selective about that time, but I made it work when it made sense. The great thing is we had so many common texts we were able to reference when working on reading skill and responding to text.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing! What a great idea! It's a great way to build a community around reading!

  8. THIS is exactly what I NEEDED. THANK YOU!! I am switching grades from 3 to 4 and I am trying to change my traditions to make it new for the 6 students I will have in my class that I had in 3rd grade. I am in love with this concept, but still need to figure out the logistics. Your blog helps me process this and is exactly what I needed. Thanks for making thinking visible.

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful! Please let me know if I can help support your efforts. Also, I recently started a facebook group for #classroombookaday, which I'm hopeful will become a good resource for teachers participating also.

  9. Any suggestions on how to make the chart? Thank you!!

    1. I had an aide make mine (which is why it looks so good!), but I specified 180 squares, so he measured the board and did the math to make it work out evenly. I do recommend having it in a hallway if possible because it had unintended community-building benefits also!

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  11. Hi Jillian:
    I am going to be teaching a middle school Informational/Media Literacy block. Do you think reading fictional books in this block has a place?

  12. Excellent post.

    One thing I have noticed about certain sites is that, even though they have tons of content, the site looks great and the headlines are eye catching is that the material is simply filler. It’s downright unreadable. You can forget it 6 seconds after you read it. Not the case with your post though, really enjoyed it reading it and it held my attention all the way through!


  13. I read a picture book a day this past year -- the year of Covid teaching, 2020-2021 -- with my fully in-person 4th grade self-contained class, starting from Day 1 and all the way to the last day of school. It was AWESOME. Books we read correlated with our Social Emotional Learning topics (using Second Step), our Growth Mindset unit, our Goal Setting unit, social studies, science, other topics we were learning in ELA (figurative language, prose/poetry, rhyme schemes, main idea, theme, elements of narrative). My students had awesome discussions and insightful comments. I'm teaching 6th grade ELA this year at a new school, and plan to use picture book a day this year again.