Readers gonna read!
But, sometimes, little readers (even big readers) will tell you they don't like to read, but that just means they haven't found the right book yet!
Quick little story...
First day of school in a fourth-grade classroom. The teacher is leaning up against the classroom library shelf chatting with her new students as they began settling into their new desks and cubbies. Everyone getting organized when this little guy walks into his new classroom, takes a look at the classroom library with baskets all labeled and covers facing forward and he looks at his new teacher and says "I hate to read!" She looked at him and smiled and watched as he made his way from the opposite end of the shelf and started pointing and reading all the labels on the baskets while repeating, "I don't like Magic Tree House Books. I don't like Rainforest books! I don't like Goosebumps books!..." and on and on and on until he finished reading all the basket labels except for the one the teacher was standing in front of. She initiated a conversation with him about what he DID like. Well, his answer was sports and his favorite player was Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys. She knew right then that divine intervention was happening right there. She reached right behind her into the library basket she was standing in front of and grabbed the biography of Emmitt Smith and said, "Hmmm, I guess you wouldn't like to read this book, would you?" His eyes widened and he looked at her and said "Well, maybe that one!" He just hadn't found the right book yet!
Independent choice is often not required in many schools and classrooms but it IS necessary!
Readers of all ages need books that meet their unique interests and unique needs.
When you are asking a reader to try out a new strategy or skill, it's just going to be easier for them to have-a-go in a book that meets their interests and needs. Readers are going to have a bigger purpose for trying the new strategy because they are reading a book of their own choice.
Readers need access to books!!
When I say access, I mean classroom libraries that have variety and volume!
When I say access, I mean books everywhere from which readers can choose.
When I say access, I mean ALL books available for reading, not tucked high up on a shelf just taunting little readers.
When I say access, I mean a school library that doesn't limit or censor what books can be chosen by students.
When I say access, I mean repeated visits to the school library.
When I say access, I mean showing readers how to access the public library.
How to Help Students Find The RIGHT Book
Have a Classroom Library Full of Books of Varying Levels and Interests
If you don't have a classroom library and you are not a book addict like me, then ask for campus money to buy books. Start a Donors Choose project. Visit the public library and check out as many books as possible to keep in your classroom. If they know you are a teacher, they may increase your limit. Shop garage sales...teachers sell everything when they retire. Shop half price bookstores.
Research and Discover Your Students' Interests
Get to know each one of your readers. Let your readers discover their own reading identity. Conduct reading inventories. Give students time to think about the kinds of readers they are and the kinds of readers they want to become. Have students revisit and reflect on their reading behaviors and attitudes several times throughout the school year. Readers will change and so do their interests and abilities.
Give Book Suggestions & Book Gifts
When you notice the reading patterns and trends of your students, you will be able to grab undiscovered books from your classroom library or school library that certain readers may fall in love with. Attach a little note that says "I saw this book and immediately thought you might like it. Let me know what you think." and drop it in their book basket, their locker or on their desk to find the next day. It just might become the RIGHT book for that reader at that time.
Give Book Talks
Take a little time each week or every other week to hold some book talks. Find some new books or undiscovered gems from the school or classroom library. Choose books that you know may interest your readers but they just haven't found those books yet! Give a little teaser about the book and then see the hands reaching for it!
This one always got my 4th and 5th grade students...I would book talk The Ghost's Grave by Peg Kehret by just reading the first line of the book, "The night I moved in with Aunt Ethel, she shot a bat in the kitchen." I never had to go much farther because hands were reaching!
Create a Wonder List
Let students inquire about anything. Give readers time to ask questions and wonder about any topic they want to. Have them gather questions they wonder about on post-it notes or index cards or in their Reading or Research Notebooks. Then have them group those questions by topic. This quick little activity will create a list of the kinds of nonfiction books your readers want to read. The Wonder List becomes their future reading list to answer all of those questions they are wondering about.
Readers need all kinds of books!
Readers need choice!
Readers need variety!
Reassess your classroom library and how much access your students have to books that meet your readers' interests and needs. Think about strategies you can use to improve your classroom library and provide more access for your readers of varying abilities.
Your readers WILL read! Readers just need the RIGHT book!
Until next time,
Check out these tools for your readers and their families