Teaching Tuesday: Teaching My Son to Read (by Ricki) Part I


For a few reasons, Kellee and I have decided to break away from Top Ten Tuesday. Don’t worry—we aren’t done with lists! We’ve really enjoyed TTT, and we will miss it, but we are excited for a new Tuesday adventure that is much more aligned with our vision for this blog. We will rotate between individual and shared posts, but you can always guarantee that you will find something teaching-related, about education, about our students, or about books in reference to any of those things on Tuesdays.

“Teaching My Son to Read” (by Ricki)

The Pressure

While I think about classroom teaching every day, I also think a lot about teaching my older son how to read. There’s a lot of pressure to teach our kids to read before they enter kindergarten. I’ve heard it from my mom friends, and I’ve also heard it from random strangers in the grocery store. Everyone seems to have an opinion on when kids should learn to read.

A Child’s Love of Books

What do I value? I value my son’s love of books. I value the fact that today, during dinner, he asked me if I could read to him while he ate. I value that every night, he begs us to let him read just one more book. I value the mornings that I wake up to the sound of pages turning, and I click on the monitor to see him reading quietly in bed while he waits for everyone to wake up.

The Pressure

With this in mind, I have held myself back. I don’t want my son to dislike reading. I’d rather he learn to read after all of his peers if it means that he won’t lose his love of books. If there’s anything I’ve learned as a mom, it’s that I don’t know anything about parenting and am likely making the wrong choices most of the time. I am not sure if I should be doing more sooner or if I should wait for him to tell me that he wants to learn to read.

The Beginning Stages

As we’ve started to work on learning to read, I’ve tried to do several things purposefully. When he was young, we put Wheel of Fortune on the television in the background while he played. He learned all of his letters from this show. Thanks, Wheel of Fortune! When we were in the car or just playing, we sounded out letters. For example, “Look at the sky! What letter does ‘sky’ start with? What other words start with ‘s’?” This helped.

Phonics? Sight Words?

This felt natural, but the actual reading felt trickier. Kids like pictures, and they often prefer the adult to read to them because reading is hard. I also kept going back to my desire to maintain my son’s love of books. I don’t like teaching phonics very much, but then I wondered if I could truly teach my son to read using only sight words. I also began to wonder if we could find a happy medium between learning phonics and sight words.

My Son’s First Book

I came across the BOB Books. I was really, really hesitant to use them because they felt very phonics-y. Essentially, it’s a small square cardboard box that contains 16 or so very short books. Each book works on a different sound, and the picture matches the words exactly (allowing kids to use context clues). I overly prepped my son. To match my insecurities, I kept saying, “And if you don’t like the books, we won’t read them!” and “Let’s just see if we can practice reading. You are so smart!” Well, he loves them. Luckily, they are very short, so we can practice reading a little bit each day. He read an entire book with some support, and my heart was bursting with pride.

What’s Next?

I don’t know what’s next. I don’t know if tomorrow my son will hate the BOB Books and we will have to put them away for good. Luckily, there are so many great books out there that help support reading (e.g. Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss). I teach secondary school reading courses, so this is a new, untraveled path for me. Some of the strategies are similar, but most are quite different. I welcome your advice! What have you learned about teaching kids to read? What can this unabashedly inexperienced mom learn about teaching reading to a four-year-old? Parenting is a humbling experience, but I’ve learned so much about the beginning stages of literacy!


Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of his Fourth Birthday


I cannot believe Trent is four! Time is flying so quickly! He is going into pre-kindergarten next year, he is starting to read sight words, he knows all of his letter sounds, and he is just so inquisitive! I am so proud of the awesome kid that he is.

Like last year, I let Trent be part of choosing the books we would share. If you look at the top left photo, that was us trying to narrow it down. He kept adding more then stopping to read books. It was so hard to get down to ten (and you’ll see we only kind of got down to ten). And this list would have probably been different if I’d asked him yesterday or waited until tomorrow (and this isn’t the books I thought he’d choose), but I let him have complete control.

So without further adieu:

Ten(ish) of Trent’s Favorite Books as of his Fourth Birthday

(In no particular order)

1. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Trent says he likes this book because “I like all of it. I like all of the parts like singing.” Then he started reciting the book. I really believe that having the song that goes along with books really sucks him into the book.

2. Baby Monkey Private Eye by Brian Selznick & David Serlin

Trent says he likes this book because “I like all of the stories. And it is funny. Baby monkey can help!” I agree with Trent! Baby Monkey is such a silly book but it is also way funnier and deeper than you first expect it to be.

3. Triangle by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen

Trent says he likes this book because “I like his short legs. And he walks past triangles and shapes. And then there’s squares. Then triangle is running.” This book was an instant favorite in our house. The perfect Klassen illustrations, the humor, and the repetition definitely help.

4. Hi, Jack! by Mac Barnett and Greg Pizzoli

Trent says he likes this book because “I like Jack taking her bag. But Jack is bad. But when he gives back her purse he’s good.” Trent finds this book hilarious! I think it is going to be a great early reader.

5. Boo Who? by Ben Clanton

Trent says he likes this book because “I like Boo flying. I like Boo hiding.” He roots for Boo all through this book.

6. Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton

Trent says he likes this book because “I like his turtle. And I like when you sing it to me.” This book has been around Trent’s whole life. It is a go-to when we sing or read something.

7. Go Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman

Trent says he likes this book because “I like them going to the party in the tree.” Go, Dog, Go! was a favorite of mine when I was younger, and I love that Trent loves it, too.

8. Space books! Including anything Star Wars, Oh No, Astro! by Matt Roeser & Brad Woodard, and Earth! by Stacy McAnulty

In addition to wanting to be a ghost when he grows up, Trent also wants to be an astronaut. Trent says he likes space because “I want to go in space because I want to. I like going to space. I like Mars and the moon. I like the moon because I want to go to the moon.” I also highly recommend a Moon in Your Room if you have a space fan.

9. King Bidgood’s In the Bathtub by Audrey Wood & Don Wood

Trent says he likes this book because “he doesn’t get out of the bathtub because he says get in. He says come in.” This audiobook has singing it in. I really think that music is something that Trent definitely gravitates towards. He also loves the illustrations and points out all of the silly things going on in the bathtub.

10. The Little Shop of Monsters by R.L. Stine

Trent says he likes this book because “I love the monsters because they have horns. And I like listening to it because I love it at the end.” I am so glad I randomly found this audiobook on Hoopla, but I know that when our 9 weeks with the library book ends, I’m going to have to buy this one because it is a pretty constant listen in my car.

Honorary. One Lonely Fish by Andy Mansfield & Thomas Flintham

Trent says he likes this book because “I love it eating the fish.” And I love that this is the first book that he completely reads alone.

Which books are we missing in our lives?


Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday


Yesterday was Trent’s third birthday! Can you believe Trent is three?!?!? I can’t! It blows my mind. My baby has grown into an intelligent, independent, potty-trained, Star Wars obsessed, sweet, little boy! Luckily, the love of books has remained through all three years of his life 🙂

This year for our favorite books post, I let Trent choose his favorites as of right now. So, without any further adieu…

Ten of Trent’s Favorite Books as of His Third Birthday

1. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

2. Llama Llama Board Books by Anna Dewdney

3. Chugga Chugga Choo Choo by Kevin Lewis

4. Down By the Bay by Raffi

5. Nibbles: The Book Monster by Emma Yarlett 

6. Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr.

7. ABC Universe by American Museum of Natural History

8. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

9. Who’s Like Me? by Nicola Davis

10. Pigeon Books by Mo Willems


Honorary. Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman

Go Dog Go was the book Trent chose to read as the last book before he turned 3. Once a favorite, always a favorite!

Here’s to another year of great books with my wonderful boy!


Past “Trent’s Favorite Books” Posts

Kellee and Trent’s Favorite Picture Books: First Three Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Three to Six Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Picture Books: Six to Nine Months

Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books
**Check this one out if you haven’t–it is one of my favorite posts ever!**

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old

Trent’s Favorite Books: One to Two Years Old



I cannot believe that Trent is two! He is such a smart, sweet, funny boy who is really coming into his own. Additionally, over the last year, he has gotten a reading personality. I used to be able to force him to listen to whatever I wanted to read, but now he drives the book bus. He’ll still listen to new books I love sometimes, but most of the time, he is choosing what he wants to read, and he definitely has favorites. I will preface with the fact that most of these are board books because that is what he primarily has access too. I cannot wait until he isn’t into tearing book pages, and we can dive into all of his picture books freely!

Here are his favorite books over the last year (in no particular order):


Don’t Push the Button by Bill Cotter

This book is hilarious! Trent loves the interactive parts, and I love how clever it is.

Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman

A classic! Trent says good bye at the end of the hat scene which is adorable! I also love how it teaches colors, prepositions, and opposites.

Thomas the Tank Engine Me Reader

This lets Trent be in control. It has a reader that allows him to pick which book he wants to read then each page he is reading has a symbol that he presses and it reads the page to him.

Friends by Eric Carle

A new favorite of his. There is a part in the middle where the character is on an adventure to find his friend, and Trent loves the onomatopoeias that are within this section.

Race Car Count by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

I am so glad we got this book because it may just be Trent’s favorite. He loves the orange car the best. I really think this book is the reason why he knew all of his colors by 22 months!

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Sound book) by  Sherri Duskey Rinker

Trent is a fan of sound books and construction machinery, so this is a perfect mix and a great bedtime story.

Big Friend, Little Friend from the World of Eric Carle

Another sound book which looks at big and little animals that live in the same habitat. Another combo of two things Trent loves.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

This has been a favorite of Trent’s from the second we read it the first time. He loves his owl book. He’s also started having us read Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan, so I can see it sneaking in and being a loved owl bedtime story too.

If I Were a Penguin by Anne Wilkinson

Another favorite for his entire life. He loves the touch-and-feel aspects and penguins.

Rainbow Rob by Roger Priddy

This book is such a great mixture of humor, touch-and-feel, and learning. It teaches about different animals and colors within a humorous story with each animal having a different textured aspect.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

At first Trent had no interest in Goodnight Moon, but recently we had started saying goodnight to everything around the house, so I decided to bring it back out. Now it is the book that we end every day with. He crawls into bed, and I read it to him right before kissing him goodnight.

The Monster at the End of this Book and its sequel by Jon Stone

My boy is a Sesame Street kid (and proud of it), and we love both Monster books.

Little Monsters and Oh My a Fly! by Jan Pieńkowski

These are both pop-up books that we had when I was younger, and my mom passed on to me. They are a little gross and weird, but Trent just thinks that’s hilarious.

Peek-A-Zoo and Peek-A-Boo by Nina Laden

This along with Pete the Cat and Llama Llama are the first books that Trent “read” because he memorized what to say (or parts of what to say). He loves turning the page and “scaring” himself with the animal or Halloween-themed thing beneath the page.

Llama Llama Zippity Zoom and other Llama Llama board books by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Zippity Zoom is one of my favorite books to read with Trent because he reads along with you and loves the different rhyming words throughout. He yells VROOM VROOM VROOM every time–it is so great! He is also starting to like the rest of the Llama Llama board books we have, so I see him being a huge Llama Llama fan in the future.

Pigeon books by Mo Willems

We have progressed through many of the pigeon books over time. Originally, we read mostly the board book The Pigeon Has Feelings Too, but one day Trent saw The Pigeon Needs a Bath on the shelf and asked for it. The rest is history. He now has Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus in the mix as well.

Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin and James Dean

We love Pete. The original is still our favorite and probably always will be, but Trent is good with reading any Pete book.

Disney Sound Storybook Treasury and other Disney books

We are a Disney family, so Trent is a bit obsessed with some of the characters (Anna, Olaf, Ariel, Mike Wyzowski, Sully, Buzz, Woody, Mickey, and Minnie to name a few), so he often wants to read our Disney books.

Reading with my child is something that I cherish. And I love that he is a fan of reading and has been since birth:
A First Year Full of Books
Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months
Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Six to Nine Months
Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Three to Six Months
Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: First Three Months

I cannot wait to see what the next year in books looks like for my sweet boy!

Kellee Signature

A First Year Full of Books: Trent’s Journey Through Books


During Trent’s first year, we took a photo of every book we read to him. This slideshow documents our journey through books with Trent from three days old to one year old. Enjoy!

I love seeing him grow up among so many great books!

To see more about what Trent read and liked during his first year:

Favorite PBs 3 months 3-6monthbooks

Trent6-9monthsfavbooks Trent's Fave Books 9-12 months

Here’s to our next year filled with love, family, friends, good health, lots of learning, and amazing books!


Trent and Kellee’s Favorite Books: Nine to Twelve Months


Trent's Fave Books 9-12 months

This has been such a wonderful year! Being a mom has changed my view of the world and made me think about my place in the world; however, watching my son grow has been the most amazing thing in the world, and I have loved sharing all of the things I love about my son and being a mom.

My favorite thing to share with you all, though, is all of the amazing books Trent and I read. Check out our 0-3 month post, 3-6 month post, and 6-9 month post. Today I wanted to do an overview of Trent’s favorite books over the first year. Although there are so many wonderful books we read over this first year, these are the ones that we find ourselves reading over and over (includes primarily board books because those are easier for Trent to manipulate and sturdier so there is no tearing). To see all that we’ve read and see all of my ratings, check out my Goodreads shelf.

Trent’s Favorite Books
These are the books that Trent will dig through a pile to find when it is time to read.

Fifteen Animals! cover v3.indd personal
pete1 ifiwereapenguin

Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton
This book will help Trent with both animals and counting. Also, it has a super fun song that goes along with the book which makes it so much fun to read!

Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton
I love this book! It is super cute, about an unusual friendship, and also has a great song (sung by Davey Jones).

Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin
 Pete is probably Trent’s favorite! As we read, he points at Pete and is mesmorized for the whole book. It also has a fun song (see a trend?!?!). 

If I Were a Penguin… by Anne Wilkinson
This book takes us through characteristics of penguins and is a touch-and-feel book. Trent has a favorite page in this book that he’ll open up to and just rub the penguin’s wing and stare at the page for minutes.

Other Favorite Books
There’s a chance Trent will pick these too!

kiss kiss good night are you my mother five black cats goodnight goodnight a book of sleep go train go

Kiss Kiss Good Night by Ken Kesbitt
This is probably Jim’s favorite book to read to Trent at bedtime. It is a very sweet bedtime story with animals.

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
A classic! We love watching the You Tube video that reads the story with us as well as reading the board book. This was the first book that Trent took with him in place of a toy then read in the back seat as I drove him to daycare. This warmed my heart.

Five Black Cats by Patricia Hegarty
This Halloween story is more about some rambunctious black cats. The prose is so much fun to read and the pictures are colorful which holds Trent’s attention.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (Sound Book) by Sherri Duskey Rinker
I love this story filled with goodnights to our favorite construction machines, and I think the sound makes it even better! The rhyming story with the sounds makes it a wonderful bedtime story.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na
This beautiful look at animals’ bedtime has such amazing artwork. Trent and I love to look at the different animals.

Go, Train, Go! by Wilbert Awdry
Such a fun Thomas the Train story. This is one that Trent has just started picking up often. We’ll have to see what happens!

I so look forward to seeing what books Trent loves over the next year!
What books should I make sure we get to? 

Please also check out the video I made of photos of all 300+ books we read with him in his first year: “A First Year Full of Books”!


How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday by Jane Yolen (& Can You Believe Trent is ONE?!)



How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday?
Author: Jane Yolen
Illustrator: Mark Teague
Published September 1st, 2011 by The Blue Sky Press

Goodreads Summary: Everyone has a birthday, and from riotous birthday parties to the excitement of being one year older, having a birthday is the highlight of a young child’s year.

All little dinosaurs love to get presents, and this new board book will be an immediate favorite. From birthday hats to Ceratosaurus-sized cakes, America’s young readers will laugh out loud as the celebration moves from “bad” birthday behavior to just the right amount of silliness and sharing. Bestselling duo Jane Yolen and Mark Teague have created the perfect introduction to birthday parties, with the same beloved humor and warmth of all their previous bestselling “How Do Dinosaurs” books.

Here’s a wonderful way to say “Happy Birthday!” to any dinosaur…young or old!

My Review: I bought this book to read to Trent on every birthday, and I cannot believe that today is the first one! I decided that this was the perfect birthday book because it is super fun to read, has great dino illustrations by Mark Teague who is such a great artist, and it even teaches a nice message that will be a perfect reminder at each birthday. I am so excited to share it with him for the first time today (and his 1st birthday party is dino themed, so it’s perfect!). Which brings me back to…



This year has gone by super quickly. To commemorate, I wanted to share some of my favorite things about Trent and being a mom:

1) Trent likes books. I was so worried that I would read to him every day and that it would never lead to Trent liking books; however, that is not the case! He likes to grab his favorites (Pete the CatFifteen Animals, and Personal Penguin) and flip through them or have us read to him. He’s even chosen books a few times as his toy to bring to the car on the way to daycare. I love listening to him in the back seat “reading” to himself.

2) Trent laughs with his whole self. I love when he laughs. He is a full body laugher, and it just fills his whole self and the whole room. And he does that thing where your laugh isn’t just on the exhale, it is on the inhale too. So great!

3) Trent is a super chill, super happy baby. Of course he has his melt downs, he cries when he doesn’t like something, and he cries when he’s tired/hungry/waking up; however, for the most part he is a super chill, super happy baby. His demeanor and attitude make me so proud!

4) Trent loves pop punk, dream pop, the Beatles/”Across the Universe” soundtrack, and the Snoopy song. He loves to listen to music. Trent dancing is SUPER adorable. He kind of shakes his hips and moves back and forth. It is so cute! Also, if he is upset, pop punk music surprisingly calms him down. I really think he likes all music, but these are the ones that he seems to enjoy the most.

5) The way he looks at me. Wow. That way that he looks at me is a look that could melt anyone’s heart. I knew how to love before, but this is a different type of love. It is a love that fills me up and makes me complete.

6) The way he looks at Jim. The whole son/dad thing is just the best ever. I love spying on them and watching them be so cute.

7) Watching him learn. To think that a year ago he was born and couldn’t do anything but poop, pee, and eat, and now he walks, talks, learns, etc. is just the most amazing thing in the entire world. My favorite things he’s learned recently are: how to play by himself, sign language for more, how to turn the propellers on his helicopter, pointing, and the SO BIG game.

8) Everything. I just had to cover my bases in case I forgot something 🙂

Being a mom may just be the coolest thing ever!

Happy birthday Trent! I love you!