I usuallOne thing I know my students struggle with is making good book choices. They either pick out books that are way too hard for them, or they make selections that are way too easy for them. Either way, they end up not enjoying the book and they beg to go back to the library. This cycle continues and continues until they just give up on reading all together.
What can we do to ensure that our students aren't just jumping ship on us? I just wanted to share a few ideas that have helped me in the past.
1. Book Tasting Party
At the beginning of the year my students participate in a Book Tasting Party. You may have seen them all over teacher blogs and even TPT has menus you can buy for them. These Book Tasting Parties are so much fun and my kids have loved them in the past. I set up the classroom to look like a restaurant. I put out table cloths, set up plates full of cookies, cute napkins, and even glasses of juice. Every spot also has a book and a menu. The menu items are things like Mystery, Fantasy, Biography, and Informational. The students rotate and share the books they have at their tables. They are just "tasting" the books at their tables to see if they would be something they would like to read later. Not everyone likes the books they have "tasted" and that's ok! That's the point! To see what they like and don't like about books.
2. Book Talks
Anytime I have new books coming into my classroom library I provide a Book Talk. I stand at the front of my room and walk through the book with my students. I show them the cover, I read the blurb on the back, and then I read the first page or two to give them a little "taste" of the book. I try and do this a few times a month, or when I see my students getting into a reading slump. I've even had students do Book Talks for the class when they have finished reading a book they think their classmates would like. Students usually like reading the books that their classmates recommend, and the student feels proud when others like it. I usually give them a little coaching beforehand so they know what to say.
I have always found value in reading aloud to my students. Even when I taught 7th Grade English, I read aloud to them. Their favorite was Full Tilt by Neil Shusterman because it had so many cliff hangers and who doesn't love a book about a demonic carnival? I usually like to red a few pages a day and stop when I know something amazing is about to happen. They just love listening to me read. Plus, they usually want to check out books that are like the one I'm reading, and that's the main goal.
Here are some covers of my favorite read aloud books:
Do you have any tips you would like to share?
Laura Gokey is the owner of The Learning Tree and is working towards her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Regent University. She currently lives in Livingston, TX with her husband of fourteen years and her two children.