Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Three-Minute Solution

I had about a dozen books checked out from the library. And renewed. Twice. I read them. And I read them to my children. And we reread a few of them. I hesitated turning them back in because I had been procrastinating the act of writing them in my reading journal.

You know, the title, author, illustrator, publisher, year published, summary, and a quick "how'd I like it." Once I sat down to actually write the info down, it took me about 33 minutes to list the 11 books, three minutes per book.

I asked myself, "So why do I put it off knowing that I'm going to create a 30-60 minute chore that will need to be done later?" And the solution is to take the one-two books that I read each night, and take 3-6 minutes to quickly jot the info down. Problem solved!

No more hour-long sessions looking back through the adored books. And another plus is that my evaluation of each book is fresh in my mind. However, writing up a summary weeks later does offer the slight advantage of knowing whether or not the book has real staying power. These are the books I had. And the ones in bold are the ones we read more than once (the ones with staying power).

How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board


  • Moosekitos, A Moose Family Reunion by Margie Palatini; ill. Henry Cole; Hyperion Books; 2004; 
    • Lots of puns, rhymes, and synonyms. A perfectly perfect read aloud. (1002 words)
  • Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper; A Sunburst Book, Farrar Straus Giroux; 1998
    • Fun. A good read for fall, or a baking or sharing theme. (750 words)
  • Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney; Viking Press; 1982
    • Kind of long, kids didn't want to read it. Adorable and timeless. (1243 words)
  • Matthew's Dragon by Susan Cooper; ill. Jos. A. Smith; Aladdin paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster; 1991
    • Kind of long, my 6-yr.-old loved it. (word count n/a)
  • Tuff Fluff, The Case of Duckie's Missing Brain by Scott Nash; Candlewick Press; 2004
    • Funny, different, silly, long, engaging. A wonderful mystery. (2060 words)
  • Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen; Random House; 2009
    • Cute, short, very fun to read, quirky, vocabulary-rich, told in nonsense verse. (555 words)
  • Pemba Sherpa by Olga Cossi; ill. Gary Bernard; Odyssey Books, a division of The Ciletti Publishing Group, Inc.; 2009
    • Based on a true story, long, shows strength of girls, and helping and humility, long. (1951 words)
  • Angel Girl by Laurie Friedman; ill. Ofra Amit; Carol Rhoda Books; 2008
    • So touching that I cried. That's rare. Long. (1391 words)
  • The Library Dragon by Carmen Agra Deedy; ill. Michael P. White; Peachtree; 1994
    • Lots of puns, word play, synonyms. Very fun. One of my favorites! (983 words)
  • The Magic Hat by Mem Fox; ill. Tricia Tusa; Voyager Books, Harcourt, Inc.; 2002
    • Short, good read-aloud, good for predicting (goes with page turns), uses a rhyming refrain. (305 words)
  • Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox; ill. Julie Vivas; Kane Miller, a division of EDC publishing; 1985
    • Sweet, touching, timeless. And a little humor, too. (629 words)
So there you have it. Now I've got to read to my kids! Good night!

How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board



  1. Thanks for the list! I didn't even need to ask Twitter, I could have just come here first!

  2. I love the Mooskito series! Will check out some of the others, but I only went to the library yesterday. Have you timed the same thing on Goodreads, then you have a picture of the book too? If you only write one line, you don't need to write title, author all done for you. Then cut and paste into your blog. Worth a try.

  3. I'll definitely check out Goodreads. Thanks for the suggestion.


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