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6 Tips for Launching Readers' Workshop

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

Launching Readers Workshop is more than just guiding students through organization lessons.

Launching Readers’ Workshop is providing time for students to discover themselves as readers and develop their reading interests while learning strategies and skills that will develop their reading proficiency.

Readers' Workshop is the time where your learners will live like readers.

Here are some tips, strategies and tools for getting your Readers' Workshop started.

As a mentor teacher, reading coach and literacy consultant, I've learned over the years teachers are not shy to share their thoughts! I’ve heard it all…

  • these students can’t do that

  • these students don’t have a reading identity

  • these students don’t like to read

  • these students don’t know how to choose books

  • these students can’t jot their thinking

  • these students won't do that

…and the list goes on and on and on.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I’ve heard it all from teachers in schools where I’ve taught and inside schools where I’ve provided professional development.

Teachers should be prepared for Readers' Workshop! Teachers should have students that...

  • can do that

  • have discovered their reading identity

  • like to read

  • know how to choose books

  • can jot down their thinking about reading

It’s not true…ALL kids can read and find enjoyment in their reading choices.

But that’s the key word…choices!

Students have to be able to read what they are interested in, not what the teacher was interested in when he/she was in elementary school.

Readers’ Workshop will provide your learners with strategies to structure their choices, so they will make good selections.

I want you to be prepared for Reading Workshop. When Launching Readers’ Workshop, here are 6 tips and strategies that you MUST do for your readers.

Tip #1 Explain Readers’ Workshop

If students have not had the privilege of being part of a Readers’ Workshop before, you must explain to them what Readers’ Workshop is...

~a time to read your self-selected texts

~a time to discuss reading with each other

~a time to discover the kinds of reading we like


Launching Readers’ Workshop should include a few procedural minilessons to help students understand how to work independently during this time.

You will eventually be pulling small groups during this time and want students to know what to do if they have questions or challenges during their independent reading work.

Launching Readers' Workshop should include minilessons to help your readers uncover their reading identities.

Launching Readers' Workshop should have minilessons to help your readers develop strategies and skills to live like readers.


Tip #2 Discover each other’s reading identities

Every reader has their own reading identity. Teachers must share their reading identity with students.

Click on the image for a FREE step by step guide to share reading lives.

I challenge you to create a book basket, book bag or whatever you like to hold a few of your reading favorites and current reading choices.

Remember to keep it appropriate.

You can definitely share your adult reading favorites but let’s not get too personal.

Remember when I said I’ve seen it all…well, let’s just say I’ve had to ask a teacher to leave a personal favorite out of her book basket because it was not appropriate for elementary kids or adults for that matter…Omg there was skin…lots of skin! 😲🤯😵 Eeeek!

As students investigate and dig deep into their reading lives, they will get to know themselves as readers and you, the teacher, will get to know the readers in your classroom.

Readers must dig into their reading past to discover the kinds of readers they are. Then, they must set some personal goals towards the kind of reader they want to become.

Check out the following gallery for some ideas and inspiration about discovering reading identities and maintaining that throughout the year.

Be sure to click on the gallery and it will take it to a larger slideshow with descriptions for each picture.


Tip #3 Set up Readers’ Notebooks

A Readers Notebook is a place for students to keep track of their reading work.

You can use it to analyze student thinking and establish student goals based on the student’s work.

A Reader’s Notebook needs to be organized and set up for ease of use.

The more students use their Readers’ Notebooks, the more they will begin to treasure the notebook.

It’s amazing to see how the student notebooks evolve over the course of the school year based on student reading and learning. check out this product, Getting Started With Readers' Notebooks.


Tip #4 Make good book choices

Student CHOICE is a must!

When students have the choice of what they can read, they are more likely to read.

Just think…if someone told you what to read, would you enjoy it? See Tip #2 above.

Students establishing a reading identity at the beginning of the school year makes choosing books so much easier!


Tip #5 Talk about Reading Thinking

Teachers are the proficient reader model in the classroom. You are the chief learner!

Students don’t typically understand the kind of thinking they are doing while they read.

That’s where we must make them aware of the different proficient reader strategies they can use to better understand a text.

Help students recognize the different kinds of thinking they do as they read.

Teach students how to STOP and JOT their own reading thinking! YES…all readers can jot their thinking…even primary students. Every reader has something to say about their text and they have different ways of jotting it.

Jotting reading thinking is developed throughout the school years. It evolves over time!


Tip #6 Tour the classroom library

I know this sounds silly, but students need a tour of the classroom library.

Let them know how the library is organized. Better yet…let the students organize the library.

It makes it more personalized and builds community. Let students help you label the baskets. And remember when I said I’ve seen it all…well….please, please, please don’t tell students they cannot shop in certain baskets of your library because it’s not on their level!


As you continue through the launch for Reader’s Workshop, students will be working together to make good book choices and share the kinds of thinking they do while they read.

As students continue sharing their reading with their classmates and you, their Readers’ Notebooks will grow and evolve to become an authentic representation of each reader in your classroom.

Just think about how you all will be getting to know each other during these first couple of weeks sharing your reading interests, sharing your reading identities and developing into a community of readers who will grow together!

Until next time...

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