Reader’s Notebook: 40 Book Challenge!

After much reading, researching, and deliberating, I have FINALLY decided on my reading incentive program for the year.  I knew that I did NOT want anything to do with AR (Accelerated Reader).  This program, while it has its benefits was not achieving my goal for the classroom, which has always been for students to love reading.

I believe I blogged about my views recently, but I’ll further explain my final program here.  First, I must give credit to the amazing people who created, published, and promulgated the idea of the reader’s notebook and book challenges.  *Note: Reader’s Notebooks, reading workshop, reading instruction, etc. ideas have been around for a long time.  I have found these three sources to be the best I have come across thus far. (Pinterest–you are amazing, but I needed to do extra research to determine how I could implement a book challenge all year.)

If you haven't read this book, go to amazon immediately and purchase it.  Loved!
If you haven’t read this book, go to amazon immediately and purchase it. Loved!
Fountas and Pinnell
Fountas and Pinnell
Check out her site ASAP if you haven't already.
Check out her site ASAP if you haven’t already.


My students were asked to bring a composition book to school for their reader’s notebook.  (Next year, I’ll be sure to specify to bring a composition book with a cardboard/paper cover, not a plastic one.  The plastic covers were difficult to adhere their pictures to, even with modge podge.)

Composition Book with cardboard cover--standard.
Composition Book with cardboard cover–standard.

After introducing the book challenge, I passed out copies of the forms to be cut and glued in their notebooks.  The forms included genre tally sheet, genre overview, characteristics of a genre (see “genre hunt”), weekly schedule accountability sheet, instructions for weekly response letter, sample of student letter, and more.  The package can be purchased in my tpt store- Reader’s Notebook Book Challenge.  

Our first lesson was introducing all the genres (genre hunt) which I blogged about already, but it was really an awesome learning experience for me and the students.  Categorizing books according to genre was more difficult then they had anticipated.  We are now in the process of sorting the entire classroom library–yikes! and yay!


So far, I am one month into my school year.  I have blocked off 15 minutes for silent reading in the morning.  (The Book Whisperer really helped in figuring out the logistics of this entire process.)  It is during this time that I conference with students individually and/or in small groups of 3.  They bring with them the book they are currently reading and their notebooks.  Sometimes I have them read to me.  Other times we are discussing the book they are reading and how it’s working for them: are they on track to complete the challenge?  If not, I try to steer them in the right direction.

As far as keeping the students accountable for their weekly response letters, I have divided the class between all five days.  I have a group of students that always turn in their notebooks on Monday, a group for Tuesday, etc.  This way I only have 6-7 students to read and respond to each day.   I’m not sure how other teachers do this, but I would never trust myself to collect all 34 notebooks on Friday and have them back by Monday.  So far, it’s working out well.  A couple of days I even took them with me to lunch and completed them before school was out.  The immediate feedback and constant writing about reading has already shown benefits.  I feel like I have learned my kids faster than I have other years.  And not simply their academic skills and abilities, but their interests and personalities.  It’s been great so I’m determined to keep it up.

The following are some photos of my students work.  I hope to see MAJOR improvements by the end of the year–fingers crossed!

IMG_6614 IMG_6613 IMG_6612 IMG_6611 IMG_6610 IMG_6609 IMG_6608 IMG_6607 IMG_6606

Reader's Notebooks decorated!
Reader’s Notebooks decorated!



Published by Cortez Corner

Literacy instructional coach turned site administrator. Misser of the classroom. Reader. Wannabe writer. Barely blogger. Podcaster. Dormant Poet...I just know it.

46 thoughts on “Reader’s Notebook: 40 Book Challenge!

    1. T.I.R.E.D
      I love your notebook pages as pictured above. Are they same documents available in your tpt store- Reader’s Notebook Book Challenge? I tried to open the link to purchase and book report documents came up? I would love to use both the documents from your tpt Reader’s Notebook Challenge as well as those pictured above as glue in’s for the notebooks.


  1. I would be interested in a copy of your notebook pages! I am doing the 40 Book Challenge for my Action Research for my Masters!


  2. I just read the Book Whisperer and am planning to use her ideas in my classroom this year. I did not find your reader’s Notebook pages on tpt. Can you email to me at I would so appreciate it!


  3. Hi! I would love a copy of your Reader’s Notebook Book Challenge but I can’t seem to find it on TPT. Is is still available? I would love to use this with my fourth graders this upcoming year!


  4. I really like the setup pages you have for your notebook. However the link does not work to find it in your tpt store. Can you please send me the link if possible. Thanks,


  5. I love how you are using your notebooks. I am going to attempt to try them again and I would like to use your ideas. Can you email me the documents you use? Thank you,


  6. I Love your notebook pages I am doing the 40 book challenge in my class. Can I get a copy of your pages?


    1. Not sure if you saw or are following the blog, but I just posted an entry that has the link. Students are reading in class for 15-20 minutes in class each day, and hopefully, at home too. They were assigned one day a week that they had to complete a letter to me about their reading. The weekly schedule sheets were kept in a huge pile in the classroom, so the students could grab and complete one a week as needed. These helped guide our conferences because we could see if they needed assistance budgeting their time to complete the challenge.


  7. I really like this reader’s notebook, however it isn’t on tpt. Can you send it to me? Do you have it to where I can edit it as mentioned in your directions of usage?


  8. Thank you for sharing your resources! I was wondering since you have implemented this what kind of growth have you seen in your students? I just read The Reading Whisperer and Reading in the Wild and am going to try it this fall in my 4th grade class. Thank you for also posting your tips for the 40 Book Challenge, they are very helpful.


    1. The growth was tremendous. Not just in reading, but writing as they were writing letters to me each week. I also felt that I never knew my students better. The letters and conferences with them was invaluable to me. I also saw so much positive growth in their dispositions towards reading. I would never give this up!


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