How to get your child started with a journaling habit

Ever since we launched our kids’ reading journal last year, we hear over and over again that it’s helping kids develop great habits around their reading. Parents tell us that kids love the questions and layout, that it helps them reflect on what they’ve read, and that they love recording their experience in a journal that is all their own.

Journaling has become part of the reading routine at our house. Bean uses her reading journal to record her favorite picture books each week. She’s not writing much yet, so I sit down with her to read the questions aloud. She fills in what she can, and she draws lots of pictures. Lu likes to journal about all the books she reads on her own, and both girls record their thoughts about the middle grade books that we read aloud together. Usually the girls do this right after they finish a new book.

how to get my child started journaling

We’re glad other families are loving the journal, too, but we know that any journaling habit is great for kids. As our friend Bethany from Biracial Bookworms reminded us in a recent post about why her kids journal every day, “The Reflection process is key to developing critical thinking skills in a child.” Still, it’s hard to keep up with any habit, especially one that—let’s face it—you need to remind your kids to complete daily.

Tips for getting started with journaling for kids

Based on our experiences and the feedback we’ve gotten from others, we wanted to share a few ideas for implementing the journal into your family’s reading routine:

  1. Consider starting a new journal on the new calendar or school year. That way you can see your child’s progress and capture memories based on specific life events.
  2. Take responsibility for reminding the kids to use it. When we finish a book, I immediately ask the girls to get out their journals—otherwise we will forget.
  3. Create your own ratings system so your ratings are consistent. (We’ve found that if you don’t do this, kids will give most books a solid five.) Ask the kids why they rated the book the way they did and compare to other books that they’ve rated the same.
  4. Set goals for reading and use the journal to measure your progress. This doesn’t have to be high-pressure. Make a list of five books you want to read in the front of the journal and then cross them out as you read. Then add to the list as you go.
  5. Experiment with what works for your child and family. Maybe doing batch entries is less stressful than doing single entries. Maybe your child wants to do it independently, or maybe it becomes part of your routine when you finish a book. Perhaps your child only journals about middle grade books, or perhaps they record only picture books. Maybe it’s just about reflection, or maybe it’s about keeping track of their progress. There’s no right or wrong way to use it.

Most importantly, make sure the journal isn’t just more work. We’re all about making reading fun and simple, and we want to keep it that way!

If you already have a My Reading Adventures journal—or a different journal your child uses frequently—we’d love to hear about how your family uses it! Let us know in the comments below.

What I read last month: fiction, nonfiction, middle grade and YA

Best books of May 2017

I finally got some reading done this month! I have been in the bad habit of starting a bunch of books and then slowly reading several at a time. They are all for different purposes—I read solo with Lu, solo with Bean, for book club, we usually have a family read-aloud going, and I usually have at least one audio book going too. Progress is slow, but this way I get to read many different types of books! Here’s what I read this month:

best books of May 2017

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow was this month’s book club selection and my monthly audiobook download from Audible. I fell in love with Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat sentenced to living the rest of his life at a Moscow hotel by the Bolsheviks. This novel is almost like a Seinfeld episode: it’s about nothing and everything all at once. In gorgeous prose and with a great sense of humor, it goes into great depth describing characters and scenes that are sometimes inconsequential to the story. Towles does a wonderful job of demonstrating both the futility of the count’s life imprisoned in the hotel, as well as his ability to create a community and a purpose for himself there. This is the rare book that I would have preferred to read rather than listen to; I found my mind wandering at times even though the writing was beautiful.


Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig

I had some weird health issues a few years ago that led me to eating a Paleo diet. With the help of a naturopath and restrictive programs like the Whole30, I figured out that dairy was very, very bad for me. I’m very grateful to Melissa Hartwig’s Whole30 books for helping me figure that out. This book is the third in the Whole30 family, and it details how to use what you learned during the Whole30 and adapt the program into a more manageable and healthy lifestyle. I’m not sure that I’d call Melissa’s approach Food Freedom. Living a mostly Whole30 lifestyle where every couple of months you get to eat a cupcake isn’t practical for most people. However, this book provides some helpful building blocks for people who struggle to eat well for the long haul: reset, re-introduce, accept when you’re off course, repeat are the basics. What I really like is that she emphasizes that you will make unhealthy choices and you don’t need to feel guilty about that.

 Young Adult

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon


Everything, Everything kept me going during jury duty last month. I have a weird habit of reading books without even reading the jacket summary, so I was pretty surprised when this turned out to be a book about a girl who is restricted to living in her home because of a rare disease and who falls in love with her next-door neighbor through text messages and staring at each other through bedroom windows. This book has a pretty substantial plot twist that I won’t spoil for you, but I will say that I guessed it long before it was revealed (anyone else?). I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it for older teens and adults who don’t roll their eyes at YA romance.

Middle Grade

Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

Dory Fantasmagory has not only become one of my children’s favorite chapter books series, it’s also become one of mine. I just love this silly character and the rich world of imagination she lives in. In this third installment called Dory Dory Black Sheep, Dory becomes upset when she learns she is one of the few kids in her class who can’t read yet, so she’s assigned to read “baby books” about farm characters. Her embarrassment doesn’t last for long, because soon Dory jumps inside the books, where she encounters imaginary friends and foes who will be familiar to regular Dory readers. I like this one even better than the last installment—Bean says it’s the best one yet.

Hello, Universe by Erin Kelly Estrada

Our family read-aloud for the month was Hello, Universe, a novel about a trio of middle grade misfits who find friendship in the most unlikely of situations. Virgil is the quiet one, nicknamed “Turtle” by his family, but ready to bust out of his shell. Kaori is the enigmatic mystic looking to capitalize on her connection to the spiritual world. Valencia is socially isolated because of her hearing loss, but has plenty of inner confidence to make up for it. Their three worlds intertwine in magical ways on the first day of summer, leading all three to wonder if the universe has something to tell them. This book is great for readers looking for diverse characters.

Start summer off right with curated books from Addison Reads

We are gearing up for summer here at Lu and Bean Read. Yesterday, we shared our exciting new Summer Book Hunts that will keep your kids searching for (and reading, of course!) new books all summer long.

Today we get to share the exciting news that we collaborated with our pal Samantha Munoz from Addison Reads to create a series of Summer Book Boxes.

Summer Book Boxes

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

Animal themed books summer book boxesSummer Book Boxes

The Summer Book Boxes are Samantha’s brainchild. She curated themed summer reading packs for kids reading at all levels. Different packs are available for kids aged 0–3, 4–6, and 7–12. Simply choose the pack that is right for your child and start creating memories while fostering your little one’s love of books.

The most exciting news (for us)? Samantha invited us to help curate the “big kids” box for readers of middle grade material.

The most exciting news (for you)? Use the code LUANDBEAN to get 10 percent off your purchase over at!

The Summer Book Box theme this year is…Animals! We can’t wait for you to dig in to these books, so we decided to round up a few of our other favorite animal-themed books. (Don’t worry—none of these books are in the Summer Book Boxes. We wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise!)

Get excited for the surprises in the Summer Book Boxes with these other animal books

For ages 0-3

Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton

Hippos Go Berserk! was one of the very first books that landed on the girls’ bookshelves. I received it as a baby shower gift. Now we’ve read it so many times that the binding is broken. But unlike many of our board books, this one still isn’t packed away. When a bunch of hippos decide to throw a party, things get wild! Each page adds more hippos, teaching both counting and addition skills. Although your babies may not catch on to that, they’ll like that it rhymes and it’s super funny. Plus, it’s fun to say “berserk.”

For ages 4–6

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson

Gaston is one of our favorite picture books of all time. It’s the story of a family of teacup poodles named Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La (that makes me laugh every time) and Gaston. Gaston is a little different from his sisters. He has trouble learning the way of the poodle and he looks suspiciously like a French Bulldog. One day Mrs. Poodle and her brood run into a family of French Bulldogs in the park that has a pup who looks suspiciously like a teacup poodle. The families realize there has been a terrible mistake and have to sort out what it truly means to be family. Gaston is sweet, funny and beautifully illustrated. Bonus recommendation: last year, the author/illustrator duo released a sequel all about Gaston’s pal Antoinette!

For ages 7–12

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Once you start reading middle grade literature, there are fewer books with animal protagonists. Flora and Ulysses offers such a wild cast of characters that it’s not so surprising one of them is a squirrel. Flora is a self-described cynic struggling with her parents’ divorce. Her life takes a turn for the better when her neighbor accidentally sucks a squirrel into her vacuum cleaner and turns him into a rodent superhero. A rodent superhero who writes poetry.

For young adults and adults

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

There isn’t a summer book box for young adults or adults, but why not throw in a recommendation for us, too? A boy, a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a tiger are stuck in a boat. Sounds like the start to a bad joke, right? It’s the premise of Life of Pi, a spectacular tale of a boy’s struggle to survive after a shipwreck strands him with a menagerie of companions who may be more than what they seem.

Want more great recommendations like these?

Purchase a Summer Book Boxes and Addison Reads will send you a curated crate of animal-themed books right to your door. Your box will include:

  • three books
  • book tote bag
  • surprise bookish items
  • access to secret resources, questions, and activity ideas online
  • invite to the parent Facebook community

Don’t forget to use code LUANDBEAN to receive 10 percent off your order! Hop on over to Addison Reads to get your book box today!

Summer Book Boxes


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