The Christmas Book Box


Books are a big deal around here. It’s no secret that I wish all the boys in my life loved reading as much as I do, but perhaps they wish I loved fart jokes as much as they do. I try to encourage reading on the sly because anytime I stomp my feet and flail my hands in effort to get the boys onside with my desires, I am often met with sullen, uninterested faces or, more likely, a look that says, “she’s crazy!”.

I took the idea of a book box from my teaching days. I made a project out of it and engaged the boys from the beginning. At the grocery store, I casually mentioned that we needed a box. I didn’t give them any further details so when they were sorting through the heaps of discarded boxes that line the front of the store, their curiosity was piqued.

“Uh-uh. Too small! ” I’d say or “Uh-uh. Too big!”

When they landed on the perfect box, we brought it in the house along with the groceries, but I said no more about the box and deferred all questions pertaining to it saying that I wasn’t quite ready to share its use yet.


A few days later, my middle one was lazing around the house, bored. Read: he was whining and I was quickly becoming irritated. I suggested that he decorate “The Box”. I gave him clues that guided his colour selection and sticker choices. Once the box was completely covered, I asked him to return it to its place on the floor in the dining room.

When the boys were at school, I pulled all of the Christmas and holiday books from our shelves and placed them in the box and then moved the box to a prominent location in our family room. I said nothing about the box, but when the boys came home from school they quickly thumbed through the books and come bedtime took a few upstairs with them only to return them first thing in the morning.


I didn’t say too much about the book box but it’s now a part of our Christmas tradition, our Christmas narrative if you will. Each year the boys are eager to become reacquainted with some of their favourite stories and discover what new additions have been made.



Rainy Day Activity: Teaching Rhyming Words & Looking For Patterns In Storybooks


Literacy, books, learning – there a big deal around here.  I love reading in the way that my husband loves to cook.  I love reading in the way that my boys love to whine.  I love reading so much that a perfect day for me would be spent lost in the stacks of the library.  I love that musty library smell.

Our last library haul brought home a bounty of books.  Each boy was weighted down by their selections and I didn’t come up short either.

I like to see what books the boys choose when left to their own devices.  It tells me a lot about what their current interest and what’s grabbing their attention.

And because I am a book geek, I like to use one book per haul and make a lesson of it.

Oh, groan!  Can’t take the teacher out of the mother . . . my poor kids.

My middle boy loves dogs so it’s no surprise that when he spotted Bark Park by Karen Gray Ruelle it had to come home in our library tote.  We read the book a few times together, and then he spent some time with it alone.


A few days later, I typed out the words to Bark Park in large, kid-friendly font (Comic Sans, size 26) and printed it out.


We sat down together and read through the script without the pictures.  This can be difficult for children who are learning to read as often early readers rely on pictures for cues.

Using the printed story, I asked my son to find the rhyming words.


Since, for the most part, there are three pair of rhyming words per stanza, I asked my son to choose three different coloured hi-liters and because he is my son, he’s game to do any activity that requires office supplies.  Staplers are a favourite!


I like to use a blank, white paper to keep the stanzas covered that we have not yet worked on.  This focuses his eye (and attention) on the task at hand.

Together we read through the story and he colour-coded the rhyming pairs.  I.e.  Bark and park would be coloured purple.


It seems like a lot of work for at-home literacy activity and it is, but by spending this time, a foundation has been laid and a curiosity sparked.  Books that we have read after Bark Park spurred discussions about books that don’t rhyme and what are the reasons why they may not?  Non-fiction books, cookbooks, and instructional books don’t use rhyme, why?  Why do some fiction books use it and others don’t?  Can you imagine an entire chapter book told in rhyme?  Why is it not always possible to tell a story that way?

He also made connections between his favourite authors and their use (or lack of use) of rhyming.

After he had identified all of the pairs, we looked for patterns and with little prompting he was able to identify several.

  1. Rhyming words have the same ending letters . . . or do they?  Words ending with –ing do not necessarily rhyme.
  2. The last word of each sentence rhymed with the last word of the next sentence.  How can you tell if it’s the last word of the sentence?  The punctuation, of course!
  3. The first and third words usually rhymed.
  4. Sometimes made-up words are fun and can rhyme with “real” words.

Looking for patterns is a skill that extends beyond literacy and can prove helpful when learning mathematics.


Next week we return our books to the library and I wonder what will be next?