National Read a Book Day: It’s Not Just for Bedtime!




Josh and I found books about turtles at the Kidzeum in Springfield, IL.
A great example of reading in a non-traditional place, Josh and I found books about turtles at the Kidzeum in Springfield, IL.



Happy National Read a Book Day! This is quite possibly one of my favorite unofficial holidays on the calendar. Full disclosure: almost every day is read-a-book day for me.


I do not know when my love of reading started – maybe the first signed book I received from an author in elementary school (it is now in my son Josh’s library) – or sneaking out of the bedroom at my grandpa’s house to grab the fairy tale book off the shelf (I even wrote my name in it). But I wanted to pass that love along to Josh.


I compiled a list of tips to help you have a successful reading day today, tomorrow, or every day – with or without your kiddos.


For my son and me, reading is like Green Eggs and Ham. We will read here. We will read there. We will read anywhere! Here are our favorite places to read:     


Josh and I reading Heroes in Training in our backyard hammock.
Josh and I reading Heroes in Training in our backyard hammock.      
    • Backyard – We bought my husband a bee house to help his garden, which led to me purchasing Peek Inside a Beehive. Naturally, we had to read the book at the bee house. This year, we added a hammock. There’s nothing better on the weekend than climbing in and reading the next Heroes in Training or Dragon Masters book.
    • Car – I’m normally doing the driving, so I cannot read and drive. But there are great audiobooks. I stream them from my phone to Josh’s wireless headphones or thru the car’s sound system. His tablet time goes down when there is a good story for his attention. When we need a break from our books, we turn to podcasts. Our favorite right now is Greeking Out by Nat Geo® Kids.

      Andy and Josh stopping to read along the story walk at The Nature Institute.
      Andy and Josh stop to read along the story walk at The Nature Institute.
    • Parks – So many parks have storyboards set up along their paths. Our go-to is The Nature Institute in Godfrey, IL. Its storyboard is along the Frog Trail. We also have been to Veterans Tribute Park in Weldon Spring for their story walk.
    • Library – This may be a given, but we read books before we leave the library. The St. Louis County Library in Clayton has perfect little windows for Josh to climb into with his book of choice. I let Josh pick out all the books he wants. He has gotten good at asking our librarian Ms. Sam about what he wants to read next.
    • Museums – We have found books to sit and read at many museums. I also try to pick up a book or two as our souvenirs.



So now that the world is your reading nook, how do you keep the love going? Here is what we do:



    1. We let Josh pick the reads almost every night. There are some books we have read hundreds of times, but throwing in a book you have never heard of may open doors to new worlds. I now know more about Greek mythology and dinosaurs than ever before.
    2. We try to do voices – some books like The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen make it easy.
    3. Stop and talk about the pictures. One of my favorites is Every Color of Light by Hiroshi Osada. The images are amazing.
    4. Comic books are books! As are bird guides, Pokémon encyclopedias, and sports almanacs. If it has words, read them!

      Josh meets Brad Metzler, one of his favorite authors. He had all the questions.
      Josh meets Brad Metzler, one of his favorite authors. He had all the questions.
    5. In St. Louis, we have great libraries and bookstores that have great events. From storytimes to meet-the-author events, they add excitement and variety to your reading experience. I took Josh to meet Brad Metzler (Ordinary People Change the World series). It was one of the best nights for both of us!
    6. Set some goals. We had help at the beginning by participating in our library’s 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program. It has been easy to keep our momentum after completing that program … twice.



Taking a break to relax and read a book at a local park.
If I have downtime I am almost always reading. I had 30 minutes between an appointment and picking up Josh for the night, so I stopped at Glazebrook Park to read a few pages.

I read because it is self-care for me. It allows me a mental break from whatever else is going on, even if the book is dark and twisted, it is still an escape.


We read to Josh now because it is just part of our life. But we started reading because I wanted him to enjoy it and see all the possibilities books offer. Did you know that if you read a book a day to your kiddo, within 2.5 years you will have read 1,000 books? According to Every Child Ready to Read, children who read at least 20 minutes a day will be exposed to almost 2 million words per year!


I hope you now are inspired to make today, and maybe every day, National Read a Book Day! So, take five minutes, or more, today to read a book, with or without the littles.



Josh's color coordinated bookshelf, full of books.
My dad made this bookshelf for Josh and it is completely full! Yes, he and I color-coordinated it during the pandemic. It is easier for him to put books back, but hard for me to find them.


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Marlena Renner
Marlena is mom to 6-year-old Joshua and has been married to her husband, Andy, for 10 years. They reside in Alton, Illinois where he is the head athletic trainer for Alton High School. Her parents both grew up in Kirkwood, and even though she spent most of her childhood in Montgomery City, MO, she had a feeling she would end up in St. Louis someday. She worked in minor league baseball after college, eventually landing for a season with the River City Rascals. She worked for the St. Louis Blues, Stifel Theatre, and Enterprise Center for 13 years before the pandemic stopped so many things. Today she is the email specialist for Caleres, which means shoes … all the shoes.


  1. This is a great article! I love all the ways you incorporate reading into your daily life. I can be so bad about reading to my boys, but these ideas have encouraged me to prioritize it.

    Thank you!

    • Thanks for your kind words! Reading can sometimes feel like a chore but when you get into a rhythm you can make it happen! You can also check out to see if there is a free little library in your area or near any parks you visit. Good luck and happy reading!

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