Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Students Book "Shop"!

It is so important that students learn how to choose their own books for reader’s workshop.  Too often I think we assume that once children reach the upper elementary grades they are knowledge when it comes to picking out books. Unfortunately this is too frequently not the case.  Students, especially “non-readers”, appeared mystified when faced with the daunting task of picking out a book that they will not only read from beginning to end, but will also enjoy!  Yesterday and today my sixth graders and I worked on the skill of choosing books.  In the process we made some interesting discoveries.  We came up with the following list of how “good readers” choose their books:

Look at front cover
Read inside jacket
Read back cover
A book in a series
Author we like
Genre we like
Interesting title
Books that are movies
Recommendations from friends,
   teachers, and critics
New/popular book
Sequel to a favorite book
Book trailers

We then discussed how to determine if a book would be  “easy”, “just right”, or “challenging” for us to read.  The students were full of ideas:

Try the beginning
Read some of the middle
5 Finger Test
Lexile level

Next I modeled how to choose a great book.  This I think was the key.  The students were completely engaged as I demonstrated how to preview a book.  I read the title, looked at the cover, read the first page.  I thought out loud about the character on the cover, the setting and what connections I could make to other books or the author.  Then I read the back of the book.  Again, I thought out loud, answered some of my previous questions, came up with more.  Finally, after I decided I was interested in the book, I did a five-finger test to make sure the book wouldn’t be too challenging.

Then it was time for the students to choose their own books.  Success!  As I quietly circulated around the room, helping where needed, it was wonderful to see students get excited about books as they new previewed the baskets of books at their tables.  I knew we had made progress when students began filling our their “Books I Need To Read!” lists!