Literary Timelines


Serves: One or More

Time: Super Fast or Super Long (depending on how artsy you want to be!)

Perfect For

  • Gathering stories about our reading lives.

  • Feeling connected to other readers.

  • Recalling the books that are important to you.



  • Sample literary timelines (included below)


Writing Prep

  1. Make a list of books from different times in your life.

Toddler/Preschool:  The Golden Egg Book, Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother?, Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel, Green Eggs and Ham, The Little Engine that Could

First Grade:  First Grade Reader from School

Second Grade: A Cricket in Times Square, Stewart Little

Third Grade:  A Child's Garden of Verses, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Pippi Longstocking, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Secret Garden

Fourth Grade:  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, ALL Little House on the Prairie Books

Fifth Grade: ALL Nancy Drew Books, A Wrinkle in Time, The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Middle School:  Watership Down, The Outsiders

High School:  Gone with the Wind, The Andromedia Strain, Main Street, Old Man and the Sea, The Grapes of Wrath

College:  My Antonia,  Their Eyes Were Watching God


2. Think of an artful way to display your timeline. I’ve included a sample.

Pencil Lit Timeline.jpg

3. If you don’t want to get all artsy, you can just write a nice list. At the back of My Ideal Bookshelf, there’s a simple template you could use for making your own Literary Timeline bookshelf. It’s basically a blank outline of the cover below. Remember, it’s the process of remembering all those delicious books that matters with this recipe.

image of my idea bookshelf 2.jpg

Time to Get Cooking

  1. Just make your timeline in whatever way you like!

  2. If you like, jot some notes about why the book was important to you.


Share Your Words

For this recipe, I think it’s essential to talk about it with fellow humans. Before you know it, you’ll be deep in conversation, telling each other all your book reading stories. I wrote about why this is important in a post called Our Lives in Books.


Mix it Up

You could do this with songs and movies, too!


Happy remembering, and reading yourself down memory lane.


Always writing (and reading!),


P.S. I don't know who came up with this idea, but it wasn't me! I first learned about it while attending a workshop sponsored by the South Coast Writing Project at UCSB which is associated with the National Writing Project.  I believe Marolyn Stewart gave me the timeline example from one of her high school students.  Enjoy!