World Read Aloud Day Blogging Challenge #3: Snapshot of My Reading Life

World-Read-Aloud-Day-2014For the next 3 weeks, I’m participating in the World Read Aloud Day blogging challenge.  Each week, I will respond to a question along with many other bloggers participating in this global celebration of reading aloud.  Our students, teachers, and families will also be involved with these questions each week as I invite them to respond through Flipgrids, Thinglinks, and more.

For week 3, I’m asking students, teachers, and families to take pictures of their reading lives.  They will send these photos to our Flickr account via email.  Those photos will appear in the Flickr stream on our blog,

but I’ll also use them to create a slideshow of our reading lives.

Here’s a little snapshot of my reading life.  It was hard to take just one picture, so I cheated and took a few!

My bookshelf

My bookshelf

This is my bookshelf in our living room at home.  Looks messy doesn’t it?  That’s because my kids are constantly putting things on it and pulling things off.  At the very top of the shelf you’ll find a few of my autographed books.  I have so many that I had to put some in a boxes.  Many more are sprinkled throughout the books on my son and daughter’s shelves.  You’ll find books by Kate DiCamillo, Barbara O’Connor, Patricia Polacco, Jerry Pinkney, Aaron Becker, and Carmen Deedy (just to name a few).  I love reading books aloud that have been signed by the author because I somehow feel a connection with the author knowing that their pen has actually touched the pages I’m reading.  The signatures and dedications also hold stories of their own.  When I hold an autographed book, I’m reminded of the story connected with meeting and hearing from that author.

Alora & DiCamillo

My daughter, Alora, with her autographed copy of Mercy Watson

About 4 years ago, I met Kate DiCamillo at the Decatur Book Festival.  My wife and I were expecting our first child in December of that year and we wanted to get a special book signed to her.  At the time no one knew the name that we had chosen for our daughter.  As I handed Kate DiCamillo a copy of Mercy Watson, I said Alora’s name to another person besides my wife for the very first time.  The name became very real at that point.  Kate DiCamillo stared at the name on the yellow post-it note and said, “Tell Alora what a beautiful name she has and welcome to the world.”  When Alora was reading this book the other day, she saw that her name was on the title page.  I shared the story of getting the book signed and what Kate DiCamillo said, and Alora said, “Wow!  Thank you!  That is so kind of her.”  I love how our reading lives are filled with wonderful stories, but that those wonderful stories lead us to memories and stories of our own.

Alora's bookshelf, age 4

Alora’s bookshelf, age 4

This is my daughter’s bookshelf.  It is filled with books about Disney princesses and Dora the Explorer, but it also has so much more.  I love that we can share these Disney favorites with one another, but that we can also sit down and read books together like Creepy Carrots, Epossumondas, and Mercy Watson.  Seeing stories come alive through her eyes makes me enjoy and appreciate them even more.  Most of my reading life is spent reading picture books to my kids or reading books to share with students at school.

Anderson's bookshelf (age 20 months)

Anderson’s bookshelf (age 20 months)

Books often make their way from Alora’s room to my son Anderson’s room and back.  Right now, I read with Anderson every night while my wife Denise reads with Alora or tells stories aloud.  Anderson loves nursery rhymes like Hey Diddle Diddle and Jack & Jill.  He also loves Goodnight Moon and Babies.  Any books that are short, repetitive, with lots of pictures are the ones he likes to read.  We often spend time reading the same book over and over each night until he moves on to something new.  He has also stretched me to tune up my singing voice because he loves books that are songs.  We are still reading/singing Little Drummer Boy, It’s a Small World, and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands several nights each week.

Our school library is filled with so many different kinds of books, and this is another very important part of my reading life.  It’s impossible for me to read every book on these shelves myself, but students bring these books to life for me in my own reading life by sharing what they are reading and enjoying.

shelving cart

A few books that our Barrow kids enjoyed!

I love that every day I spend time reading with someone whether it’s my own children or my children at school.

For more information on World Read Aloud Day visit 

To connect with other libraries and classrooms, visit our shared Google Doc.