Raising Readers: Create a Book Timeline to Preserve the Memories

Aug 3, 2015

When I was little, I kept a spiral bound notebook to record what books I'd read and when I'd read them (the Goodreads of yesterday). To this day, I still love to look through those pages, see my haphazard 8-year-old printing, and remember those early days of reading.

I've been reading chapter books to my kids for three and a half years now. That's a lot of books. And although I've kept diligent track of those books on Goodreads, I wanted something my kids could see--a large-scale spiral bound notebook, if you will.

So I created a book timeline.

Create a book timeline so you and your kids can enjoy remembering all the great books you've read!

I first got the idea for a book timeline from Everyday Reading. Quite awhile ago, Janssen put up a bookworm on their playroom wall. On each circle, she wrote the title of a book she and her oldest daughter had read together. I loved this idea of visually capturing all those books.

In our home, we have a small room in the basement that we've turned into a library. I decided to use one of the walls to visually track all of the chapter books the boys and I have read together.

Because space was limited, I scaled down Janssen's model. Each circle is 2-inches in diameter and tells the title of the book, the author who wrote it, and the month and year we read it in. Then I mounted each circle onto one that is 2 1/2 inches. I also decided to make it into a timeline, rather than a bookworm.

This sounds like such a simple project, right? And it is. Don't be afraid to make one for yourself. But it took me forever to finish (and I still don't know that I'm 100-percent happy with it, but that could just be because of the space I'm working with and not because of the timeline itself).

For one thing, I decided to laminate all the circles. This was maybe a little overkill, but I didn't know if this was something I'd want to keep for years and years and years, so I decided to make it as durable as possible.

Then there was the problem of how to display them. My original idea was to have them go around the entire perimeter of the room, but the ceilings are so low (since it's a basement), and so I would have run into a tall bookcase and a window, and it just wouldn't have worked. Then I thought maybe I could make them into a garland of sorts and string it back and forth across the ceiling. That might have been cool, but it would not have been very timeline-y, which was what I wanted.

Create a book timeline so you and your kids can enjoy remembering all the great books you've read!

Finally, I settled on the one available wall in the room. I put up the circles in rows and stood back to admire my work . . . and there was still something missing. That's when I decided to add a header at the top (I agonized over this for several weeks but finally, for lack of thinking up anything better, went with the rather cliché, "Lost in a Good Book") as well as years placed between the circles. Both of these additions made it look less like a jumble of circles and more like an actual timeline.

Create a book timeline so you and your kids can enjoy remembering all the great books you've read!

I can tell you, we've already enjoyed this display immensely. Aaron and Maxwell love reminiscing over old favorites, but it's also made us realize that some books fade much more quickly than others. There are some titles they can't remember at all, but hopefully, this wall will help remedy that.

Create a book timeline so you and your kids can enjoy remembering all the great books you've read!

It's also just kind of fun to see the sheer number of books we've read over the last three years: fifty-three at last count. That's a lot of happy hours spent reading.

I was also really happy to recently add Redwall with the little asterisked note, "Read by Dad." I hope there are many more asterisks in the future. (Related post: Give Dad a Turn)

Create a book timeline so you and your kids can enjoy remembering all the great books you've read!

Stay tuned: In next month's Raising Readers post, I'll reveal the entire library (all 40 square feet of it). (But I'm wishing I could move it out of the basement for just an hour to photograph it.)

I'd love to hear about how YOU preserve your book memories: do you keep a reading journal, use Goodreads, or have an Excel document? Or do you have something more visual like this that you and your kids can enjoy and remember with together?


  1. Boy, I wish I had something to show all the books I read to you kids. Never kept a record. I did have all of you kids keep a record of what you read but you are probably the only one that has it still.

    1. Yes, I wish we had at least a list of all the books we read. It would be so fun to see!

  2. I've kept a book log since I was a kid, although I wan't that good at *keeping* the book logs after they were done. Some years I'd do a mini-review; some years just title, author & date. Nowadays I use librarything, and lately goodreads as well. My kids resist this strongly.

    When they were young, we'd do garlands, usually only for the summer. I'd make up a bunch of strips of paper, and after reading a book we'd add the ring to the chain circling the house. It wasn't permanent or beautiful like yours, but it was fun! At my most organized, I had different colors for different kinds of books (fantasy, historical, nonfiction, I forget).

    And one year, for the last few weeks of school, my youngest's 2nd grade teacher stopped requiring reading logs and instead I challenged the whole class to a reading race -- I'd fill out my chain and they'd fill out theirs and we'd see who got the most. The colors then were a book rating. They won, but it was closer than you'd think ;-)

    1. I love the book chain idea (and color coded? even better!). I'm putting that on the list for next summer--I think it will especially be fun when they're all a little older and reading more books on their own. (And it would be a fun way for my husband to participate with the books he's reading.)

      Also, I don't think I'd want to go head-to-head with you on a reading challenge (even if I had a whole class of second graders on my side!)


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground