Finding the inner reader in each student…

It is hard for me to imagine someone who doesn’t LOVE to read. However I raised one… not sure how, but my youngest daughter just wasn’t interested; she was proficient and skilled but just didn’t love it. It wasn’t until she stumbled on a series that spoke to her that she found her inner reader.  She still isn’t the reader I had hoped for, but she’s found her inner reader because she was hooked by that one book that opened up a new world for her.

For these reasons, I promote choice as much as possible. In the classroom, I will present texts to students that I want them to read for common or shared experiences and learning goals, but I also present options where they choose their texts in our stations. My next goal: encourage and support reading outside of my classroom.  With essentially less than one hour 5 days a week to work with children, this has been the hardest thing for me to do. Therefore I have a few ways I hope to get to know what my students are reading independently more so that I can do a better job of encouraging and recommending other great reads to help them find their inner reader.

For my 3rd graders, I encourage families to send me photos of their children holding texts they are reading so that I can put them on a “digital reading wall”. This allows me to see the variety of interests children have.

For example, here’s Tucker’s wall:

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I can tell a few things about Tucker as a reader just from these photos: (1) he’s an avid reader (2) he seems to like fantasy where events take place in the “real world” but include unreal elements (3) ADVENTURE and action appeal to him! (4) he seems loyal to certain authors. This information can help me recommend other texts to Tucker, although I get the impression that he’s pretty successful hunting on his own!

This year I’m trying something new with my 4th graders: a 40 book challenge! I believe that kids do not know what they might like because they haven’t tried it yet! For this reason, I hope to encourage children to explore different genres. And I’m taking the challenge myself! As I was setting this up, I included “memoirs” as a category and I stumbled across El Deafo, which is a memoir AND a graphic novel. Instantly I was skeptical because graphic novels haven’t really appealed to me, but WOW was I surprised. I loved this book! Who knew?! All because I challenged myself to read “outside of my box”.

So the challenge is to read 40 books this year… but to read across a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres. Read 2 books in each category for that category ‘badge’. There are 3 categories that could be fiction or nonfiction: poetry anthology, drama, and picture books (and picture books is the only category where I am seeking “4”).  Here’s a video explaining it better…

40 book challenge.jpgSo I hope that through digital reading walls and the 40 book challenge I can help students find their inner reader self!

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