When children choose books that interest them their motivation to read, and make sense of the texts improves. In addition to a rich classroom library children also benefit from a well-designed space where they are comfortable reading and interacting. Additionally, providing them with choices in where they sit, and how they read will further raise their motivation. Be sure you’re following the guidelines listed below, and then we’ll take a look at few of them in-depth.
- Provide enough books in your classroom library to meet your children’s needs and expand their interests.
- Develop procedures for introducing children to new books and genres.
- Support children’s use of anchor charts in the room to problem solve independently.
- Establish procedures so that children self-select books and reading spots.
- Teach children different ways they can respond to books.
- Make your physical environment appealing, ensuring that it contains elements that draw children to reading.
Leveling and Organizing Books
It is important to provide children access to books at their independent reading level. This allows them to practice the skills and strategies they have learned in other parts of the literacy block. A balanced literacy block should provide time for children to read independently every day. Kindergarten children should have an uninterrupted block of 15 minutes for independent reading each day and 5 minutes should be added to each grade level after. It takes time to build stamina and this is achieved over several weeks and months. Children might begin reading for 5 minutes and another minute is added each week.
Books can be arranged by genre, theme, author, or series. Some examples are; Information about Animals, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Frog and Toad, David Shannon, Holidays and Traditions. Each basket should have a label and corresponding picture. It is helpful to have a number or symbol on the label as well. This number or symbol can be written on a colored dot sticker and placed on each book in the basket. This helps students return the books to their proper basket or bin when they are shopping for new books.
Books can be arranged according to reading levels (Fountas and Pinnell, DRA, STEP). Levels should be written on each book.
You may choose to level the books in your genre basket as well, but it isn’t always necessary if there is a collection of leveled books.
Shopping for Books
Children need an opportunity to shop for books each week. It is helpful to create a shopping schedule so they know when it will be their turn. If children are seated at tables or in groups it might be helpful to schedule two groups to shop on Monday and Wednesday and other groups shop on Tuesday and Thursday. It is important that children have an opportunity to shop outside of independent reading so they are spending their reading time reading.
- Children should have a bin or bag to store the books they are reading. Magazine/portfolio boxes work nicely. Children can decorate them at the beginning of the year. Books may also be stored in large Ziploc bags or pocket folders. The books will last longer if they are not kept in a desk. It is important to remember children will need access to these books throughout the day.
- It might be helpful for children to choose two books from a leveled basket and two books from a genre basket. Children need exposure to complex text and books of interest.
Mini-Lessons & Anchor Charts
Creating routines and procedures helps students work independently and maximizes work and teaching time in the classroom. Children need to see and practice how to choose books and how to return them when shopping.
- Create anchor charts with these procedures and review them often. Procedures may include; where to read, shopping for books, caring for books, reading stamina, and buddy reading.
- Create a shopping schedule that is visible.
For other procedural mini-lessons visit learn.cli.org