One of the most important aspects in getting students to read is to surround them with material that will inspire them to read. When I moved to the high school from teaching elementary, I left a classroom library that I had built from the ground up. Unfortunately, now I’m in the process of doing it again.
There were a few things in Sara Anderson’s blogs that I found really helpful. The first one coincides with me trying to rebuild a classroom library. It is awfully expensive to try to furnish all the books myself so I really enjoyed her idea about having a budget to start with. I can definitely see where this would be a good idea. It would prevent what would inevitably be “buyer’s remorse” or more appropriately “husband’s remorse!”. Also, I really loved her suggestion of letting students know they can donate books they are done with to the class library. Adding the personal stickers of dedication is a great idea! What a way to honor those who give!
She’s absolutely correct that you need to have a classroom library so students have easy access to books. Especially books that you can talk to them about and recommend to them. This year, my second group of sophomores are at a time when the library is closed. This has created a huge issue with independent reading because they don’t have access to the library, and my classroom library is so sparse. We have SSR on most Fridays, and this class is continually full of students with nothing to read. I’m hoping that I will be able to avoid this in the future by building my class library. It was also refreshing to hear from her that she also struggles with a checkout system. This was always an issue in my elementary classroom. It’s just one of those issues that you keep working at and tweaking as you go.
Chapter 3 in Book Love really got me thinking for next year. I enjoyed reading about the way she sets the goals in her classroom. I remember reading this over the summer, and I really don’t know why I didn’t try it this year, but it is something I really want to do for next year. I’ve always known what I want my Independent reading to look like in my room, and I know that my overall goal is two-fold; get kids reading and increase reading stamina. But I will admit that I haven’t used good goal setting in my classes. Her weekly tracking sheets seem like something that could be easily incorporated into my classes. Kittle also states in her chapter 3 that two important things need to be used if we really want kids to grow: a to-be-read-next list and reading conferences. I already use conferences, but I definitely want to use the to-be-read-next list.
Kittle also mentions in chapter 4 that we have to provide a wide variety of books for students to read. This is absolutely true if we want to maintain interest for everyone. Every student has a different need; what they may need at the time, is not what we may need or even like. I thought her idea of having a parent/student letter to inform parents about the fact that it’s impossible to know everything in all the books that are available was a great idea. It would help cover yourself in the event that a parent doesn’t agree with some of the material that is available.
Overall, both readings this week reinforce that in order to develop life long readers, we need to make sure that students are surrounded by books. We also need to give students the time to make those special connections with books. Reading should be enjoyable and does not always need to be the “hard” reading. Reading first and foremost needs to be enjoyable!
Kittle, Penny. Book love: developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Heinemann, 2013.