We’ve been very lucky over the years to amass quite a collection of books. It seems like everywhere we turn, there are stacks and piles on counters, in bags, and next to beds. After collecting books from all kinds of places and attempting to organize them on shelves, it occurred to me just how many books have been going unread. Books that used to be old favorites have been replaced by new ones, some that we’ve read a few times were set aside in favor of books from the library. And while I’m not too particular about WHAT the kids are reading, and am mostly just glad that they ARE reading, I felt like we’ve been neglecting a pretty good collection.
“Bet you couldn’t read every book on these shelves this summer,” I said.
“Bet I could,” answered Sophie.
And that bet turned into our own summer reading program – Shelf Markers.
We made a deal – read an entire shelf of books, and I’ll pay $10.00. They could organize the books in any way they wanted, as long as all the books in our collection were placed on one of three shelves. After much discussion, they settled on placing the longest books all on one shelf, and split the rest of the books so that there would be subjects of interest to both kids on each of the two remaining shelves. They determined the best strategy would be to try to fully complete one shelf at a time in order to maximize the payout.
To track our progress, we made Shelf Markers. As each book is finished, it is placed to the left of the Shelf Marker and the name of the book is written on the back. This allows us to get a quick visual for how far we’ve come, and the names on the back eliminate the temptation to try to trick me into thinking we’ve read more than we actually have.
The kids and I all take turns reading the books, mostly depending on how tired we are. So far, we’re only issuing credit for those books we’re reading aloud, but that could change as the summer progresses. I’m all about following the rules, even when they are self-imposed and new ones are created frequently.
An artistic note: we made our Shelf Markers using manilla folders, crayons, pencils, and markers. We chose to make them into the shape of arms because we wanted them to be long enough to stand out past the books on the shelves, and once we got started, they just looked armlike, so we added hands. I’m sure lots of great art is created that way.