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4 Things Every Reader Needs for Independent Reading

Let's think about our own reading habits!

When you sit down to read...

  1. What do you have with you?

  2. Where do you read?

  3. How do you read?

  4. What do you read?

Our reading choices and purpose determine how we read!

For example, if I am reading for pleasure, I have a nice drink and possibly a snack. I have cozy reading spot away from everyone else. I like to really get lost in my book.

If I am reading for work (or school), I have pens, pencils, highlighters, post it notes and anything else I might need to take notes and respond to the text that I am reading. I usually get into a comfortable position and set myself away from any distractions.

Our young readers have these same needs. Some already know what they need and others need a little nudge & guidance into making the best choices for them.

Let's take a quick look at each need...

A Reader's Notebook

In the classroom, the Reader's Notebook is a way for students to collect all the teaching, learning and practice they have been doing with comprehension strategies and reading skills.

It's essential for young readers to have their Reader's Notebooks with them as they independently read.

Here they can jot notes, track characters, make inferences or whatever skill and strategy is being spotlighted within lessons.

A Reading Toolkit

Reading Tool Bags are a management tool for students during Independent Reading to gather and collect the tools they need.

As readers read independently, they are expected to have an inner conversation with the text, and track their thinking and new learning.

Sometimes learners need a little boost to help put their reading thoughts together.

Sometimes learners are spending valuable independent reading time gathering materials to do reading work.

Reading Tool Bags will help you solve this problem. When readers are given clear expectations of what tools they will need to engage in the reading work of the day, they will be better equipped to actually do the work instead of gathering supplies.

Check out the Reading Toolkit Starter Pack (with minilesson) as seen here

Cozy Reading Spots

If we want readers to do the best reading work, we need them to be comfortable. What's it hurt to let students lay on the carpet or sit in a comfy chair or put their feet up on a table?

If that's what our students need to do the best reading work, then that's what they should do! Just my honest opinion... :)

Observe your readers and ask your readers what makes them coziest when reading. Help and guide your readers into finding a cozy place for reading every day that works best for them.

Outline what is expected of independent readers and how they will be able to do that while getting cozy.

Have your readers choose a cozy reading spot and mark it on a chart so there are no arguments or disagreements every day when moving to reading spots.

Book Choice

Remember when you were in school and you were assigned a book to read that was not at all in your interest zone? That reading can be brutal! **I remember you Ms. Mauldin and The Red Badge of Courage assignment...I really wanted to read Ordinary People and you wouldn't let me**

I'm not saying that you shouldn't nudge children to try out a new genre or a particular title. I'm saying that there needs to be a healthy balance.

Children need to practice comprehension strategies within their comfort reading zone.

Reading skills and comprehension strategies that are new to our students need to be practiced within books that are their own choice and fit into their own interests.

Students are more likely to work through a strategy or skill while they are reading books of their own choice and interests.


Our young readers have reading needs based on their own personal reading identities.

Some readers already know what they need and other readers need a little nudge & guidance into making the best choices for them.

When students are comfortable and prepared for their own independent reading, they will grow as readers and their interests will expand.

When students are comfortable and prepared for their own independent reading, they are more likely to engage in conversations about the texts they are reading.

Until next time...

Grab the Reading Toolkit Starter Pack with minilesson AND Getting Started With Readers' Toolkits right here.



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