How to Create a Take Home Reading Program for Kindergarten

Take home reading book bags

I love books. Anyone who enters my classroom would know this just by looking at my classroom library. I want my students to love books too. Many of my students don't have a huge selection of reading materials in their homes nor do they make frequent visits to our local library. Providing my students with books to take home is very important to me. I used to send home a different book each night with my students. This was a lot of work. Often I'd spend my lunch time frantically exchanging books. 

Then one day a friend and I were talking about our take-home reading programs. Our programs were basically the same, give kids books to read each night, EXCEPT she gave them 5 books on Monday to read for the week. Books went home Monday to be returned on Friday. GENIUS!!! This meant no more scrambling at lunchtime. I could refill bags on Fridays. 

A New Take-Home Book Program

After I had decided to change how I sent home books, I knew that the ziplock bag just wouldn't do. I wanted my students to have a bag that would catch their eye, a bag that would remind them to read or in the case of my students ask someone to read to them, or at least look at the books. With the help of my crafty friend, a trip to the fabric store and $50 later. I had 30 book bags. These bags are made from oilcloth, which means they can be washed and wiped down. They won't soak up the spills and they help protect the books. 

Creating the Bags

She cut the fabric into long strips of 11"x24" then she folded both the short ends over about 1/2 an inch and stitched. Then she added velcro tabs to each stitched end. This becomes the top opening of the bag.  Next, she folded the fabric in half to form the bag and stitched it on the outside with her serger.
book bags kindergarten,

The parents loved the bags, they were easy to locate when they went MIA. At the end of the school year, I still had all 32 bags. I brought them home, tossed them in the washer and they looked brand new. They are all stuffed with 5 books each and are ready to go home with little readers. 

The Bags and Their Contents

I organize my books, five to a bag. Each bag has a number and each book has a label with the same number.
Click to download contract -Spanish version is first
Before my students can take home these bags, their parents must sign a contract with me.  The contract states the purpose of the bags and parents agree to pay for the bag should it or its contents become damaged or lost.  Last year I only had 3 parents who never returned the forms, I did not give their children a bag.  Instead, they took home the ziplock bag with photo-copied readers from various sources.

Click to download contract -Spanish version is first

Keeping Track of the Book Bags

To keep track of which student has which bag, I use a take-home reader board. I created the checkout board using a large piece of poster board and library pockets.  I used my Cricut machine to make the fun letters at the top of the board.   
library check out system

Keeping Track of Each Book Bag

I write the students' names on the pockets.  I made cards with numbers 1-30.  Depending on which bag the student has, I place that numbered card in their pocket with the number facing outward.  On Fridays when they return the bag, I flip their card over.  Any remaining cards with numbers showing remain facing outward and a colored popsicle stick is placed in their pocket.  The popsicle stick signals me to ask the parents or the child where their bag is.  

Next, I move each card over one pocket and face the number outward again.  I then match the bag with the student and place their bag in their homework folder. Students who do not return bags on Fridays, do not get new bags until their other bag is returned.    

I know it sounds complicated, but it is really easy and my parent helpers catch on quickly.  Please feel free to leave me a comment or ask a question about my program and its process.


Jude Eastman M.Ed. and IAC/MCC said...

Are these books the kids have read in class or completely new to them? Are they on the child's independent reading level?

I use the ziplock method and the children take home the book from reading group that day with instructions to reread that one first with parents, then 1-2 others in the bag from previous lessons. I take out books after the kids have had them 3-5 nights.

Tiffani said...

Jude- these are books that parents or older siblings read to the kids. They have other books that we make in class and practice reading for a week before they go home the following Mondays to stay in their folder for the week.

Lisa R. said...

Tiffani, this is great! I am a huge fan of take home bag programs in classrooms, especially since a lot of times, students don't have many books at home. I like your system for keeping track of your take home packs. Thanks for sharing! :)
Learning Is Something to Treasure

School Sparks Renee said...

The oilcloth is a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing. Renee

Tiffani said...

Thanks Rene and Lisa for stopping by. Rene, I also used oilcloth on my crate seats- that way if someone has an accident, I can wipe it clean

Anna Lynn said...

I love this whole idea, and I love the font you used! It's ridiculously difficult to find something cute for Kinder parents that's still easy on the eyes. What is the name of the font?

Also, are you able to provide an editable version of your parent contract/letter? The formatting is so cute but since I am starting this program in mid-Spring I do want to change a bit of the wording. (I'm a 1st year teacher and didn't like what I was doing before, but this looks very promising, so I'm switching it up!) I tried to copy paste and it came out all wrong...and frankly I have so many things to create from scratch that if I can get an editable version of something I like I'm all for that. :)

FSFTeacher said...

What do the families do with the books all week?

Tiffani said...

FSST eacher- the families are to read the books with/to their children or at least look at the pictures. Once a week they have a book response to complete about one of the books they were read.

Jodi said...

I love this idea! This was one of the most stressful things for me to keep up with! I was wondering if you included a reading log that the parents had to sign to show that they read with the students? Thanks so much for sharing!