Book Treasures


Guest Post by Malia of Playdough to Plato


Several years ago, I was working on reading with one of my kindergarteners. The little girl was bright. She already read stories at a second grade reading level and always seemed to give profound answers to questions I gave the class during read alouds. So, on this day, as she finished reading several pages of The Magic School Bus out loud to me, I expected her to quickly summarize the story when I asked her to tell me what was happening. Instead, her eyes opened wide and she replied with surprise, “Sounding out words is hard enough. No one told me that I have to actually THINK about what I’m reading!”

This is the point in the story when my teacher voice launched into explaining that in order to read, children must be able to sound out words AND also be able to think about the story. After all, there’s no point in taking the time to sound out words if you don’t remember what you read when you put down the book.

One of my favorite ways to help children improve their understanding is by giving them book treasures. Each of these tiny, handmade keepsakes captures an important part of the story and serves as a helpful reminder of the book. Each time you give your child a treasure, ask him to share it with someone else by telling what happened in the beginning, middle and end of the story and why the treasure captures something important about it. You will be amazed by the power one little trinket has on your child’s memory and you will be surprised to see how motivated your child will be to practice retelling a tale over and over again.

What makes this activity even more wonderful is that you can make treasures as complicated or simple as you’d like. Have five minutes and feeling crazed? Grab a small rock from your backyard and give it to your child after reading Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. In a crafty mood and looking for a project? Create a purple purse out of felt like the one I created here.



If your heart is now racing at the thought of tiny treasures filling every corner of the house. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t abandon you without a solution. Collect the treasures in a special container. Purchase a pencil box from Target or create your own chest. For the two boxes I created here, I spray painted paper mache boxes from the craft store and decorated them to capture two different children’s personalities.




Keeping the treasures in a safe spot and looking through them periodically will not only help your child strengthen his reading comprehension, but will also capture treasured memories you both share. (No pun intended.)


Malia has a Master’s and Bachelor’s in Education and taught in the classroom for seven years before deciding to stay at home to raise her two amazing boys. She is the founder of Playdough to Plato, a blog she uses to share simple, enjoyable activities that help parents teach their child to read.


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  1. I found your site 71 things posting via Pinterest. This book treasure is another great idea! I found my own treasure box in the garage and gave it to my 4 year old. He’s added a few things and really enjoys opening it and looking at it. I never thought to connect the “treasures” to his favorite books. How clever! I’ll certainly do that to increase his interest in knowlege and reading

  2. I really enjoyed this article as I had a four year old student last year who also seemed to read on a 2nd grade level, but with little recollection of book facts or the storyline. He was tested by a second grade teacher who explained it to me. Instead of fast-forwarding these children, now we take it slow and make sure there is adequate comprehension too. Thanks for the thought of book treasures. I also love the beginning, middle and ending reminders. I WILL be using this new idea.


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