Sunday, October 9, 2011

Building a Reading Life Success Tip # 5

This tip might work really well for you if you can't attend library time with your students (Tip # 4)--
Create a list of books from your library catalog for your growing readers. I did this by having conversations with my struggling students about their interests. "What books have you liked in the past?" "I noticed you are choosing books with ships on the cover, what draws you to those books?" Listen (don't stress too much about thinking about books RIGHT NOW), let the child talk, and you will get a wealth of knowledge about their interests.

With my knowledge of the child's interests AND their independent reading levels in mind, I perused our school's online catalog to see what we had available. I chose books that were at and somewhat below their independent reading level, added them to "my list" on the catalog, and printed it in color so that the child could see the titles of the books and the covers. My main goal is to get my growing readers books they are interested in that they can finish in 1-2 days AND for the child to start to feel what it's like to be able to read a book successfully. Success breeds success, confidence, and a desire to read more. Since implementing this strategy, a child who spent the first week starting and abandoning books now has so many books to read, his book box is overflowing. We go to the library, and he chooses more every time. We now have a running list of books he wants to read next (that he has found on his own based on the books from the list that he has been successful with) because we constantly see more "just right books" that he wants to read (again, the Stone Arch series is AMAZING for our growing readers).

Why is creating a suggested list of books for growing readers important? Why has it worked so well? I realized for a 4th or 5th grade reader who is reading below grade level, my classroom library (and the school library) is not really a friendly place. There are hundreds of books with awesome, exciting covers that draw them in. They feel like they are interested and it might be just right, they start to read and are quickly uncomfortable. But, having never really read a load of "just right" books, they might feel like "I never know all the words in my books, so what's it matter any way. I will just keep trying with this one." and they continue to have unsuccessful, unenjoyable reading experiences.

Now, I have other students asking me to create book lists for them. I tell them "Write me a quick note about what you would be interested in and I'll see what I can find." Why would I do this for my non-strugglers? One, they value my opinion and it shows I care about them, but two-by being willing to create a list for any student in the class, it diminishes any stigma that could possibly develop for the readers that needed me to create an initial list to get them reading on fire.

This is my MOST FAVORITE intervention strategy! I wish I had started doing it years ago!

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