I think one of the most difficult thing to teach young children is how to choose just right books. Most kids are so enamored with the idea of reading and chapter books that they are inevitably drawn to the Goosebumps and Harry Potters.
I teach several different lessons on how to choose just right books. I use the I PICK lesson with different kinds of shoes from The Sisters and The Daily 5. I introduce choosing just right books by making the analogy of riding a bike up a hill. It is hard to pedal a bike up a hill, just like it is hard to get your brain to think and read a challenging book. Easy books are like coasting down a hill because your brain doesn’t need to work hard or pedal at all!
This is our chart from last year.
This is our chart from this year (and a peak at our expectations for listening on the carpet).
I think it makes sense to children. We create the anchor chart together defining what is an easy, just right, and challenging book.
Another way I try to help children make just right choices is a book pass. This is a way to expose children to lots of different kinds of books. To start this activity I did did a lesson on how readers choose books. I asked students to share how they pick out books and then asked students to turn and share with a partner how they pick out books. I try to guide students to realize there are other ways to pick a book than just looking at the cover! We discuss how good readers read the back of books, the pictures, read an excerpt (define), and take recommendations from friends, teachers, and the librarians.
Before the lesson, I asked our fabulous librarian to select 30 books on all different levels (I did from 0.1 to 2.0). I held on to the books until the lesson. As the lesson summary and an opportunity for students to practice, I put a bucket of books(with 6 books in each basket) on each set of students’ tables. Each basket was labeled with the letter A, B,C,D, or E to keep them all separated and organized.
Then I passed out this sheet.
Students practice browsing through the basket at their table. Then they circle the covers/ cover of the books they would like to read from the matching basket letter. Then I moved the baskets to a different table for students to look at new books. We rotated through as many baskets as we could. Now, the students have a “What I Want to Read Next” when they go to the school library. I can scan their choices and see if they are selecting books that are just right books.
To make the sheet I simply searched for the books on Amazon and then cut and pasted the image into a Word Document. Feel free to click on it above and edit it as needed!
Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.