A couple of years ago, I was validated and inspired by Ms. Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer. If you have not yet read this book, it is a must. Immediately after turning the last page, I went straight to my computer and tried to format and create an effective and explicit way to begin a book challenge. I cannot express enough how this program has not only liberating me, but also my students. See you later points, benching students with a book in hand, read only at your level regardless of your interest, ugh. I’m over all of it. And Ms. Miller’s book allowed me to feel confident to do what I knew was right all along.
Let’s teach and treatour students as real life readers, so that there just might be a chance for them to unlock and cherish the joy of reading as we all do.
This post will be a number of pictures to better visualize how this might work in your class, tips and lessons learned over the years.
Tips for the 40 Book Challenge:
Composition Books were assembled and explained in class during the first week of school. (St. HW was to bring in photos, mag pics of things they loved or were interested in, already cut out in a plastic bag. We modge podged the covers in class.)
Read Alouds are a must! Let the students experience the joy the picture book. (Patricia Polacco, Chris Van Allsburg, Dr. Seuss are some of my favs.)
I made sure to have 15 minutes of silent reading time everyday! It was sacred-never missed. (I still feel 15 wasn’t long enough. Would have liked 20, but we had SSR during intervention block as well.)
Get rid or your “extra” stuff. You know, the “What can I do when I’m finished?” type work. Just let them READ if they finish tasks early.
Start reading children’s books now! You need to be able to recommend and guide students to fit their interests and needs, and you can’t do that unless you have read a great number of your grade level’s books. This was my favorite part of this endeavor. I now choose to read young adult or children’s novels because they are sooooo amazingly crafted. It’s been enlightening and kept me “in-touch” with my students.
Make your first order with Scholastic Books the MAX, meaning over $250. You’ll get the most points at the BOY and that’s how you build your classroom library. (I’ll post more on that later.)
Allow students to abandon a book. It’s up to the teacher, but my “rule” was that students could only abandon 2 books a trimester. They had to write a letter explaining why they wanted to abandon this book, only after they had given it a solid try (i.e. read 50 pgs. or a couple of chapters).
Any book you read aloud to the class whether it’s a picture book or novel counts towards their challenge.
Share what you are currently reading energetically and often. Let them recommend books to you and actually read them!
Start a book club. Mine was once a week before school. (I’ll post details later or see earlier posts.)
Make a book recommendation wall or system. Because you are requiring reads of certain genres, this will help students select ‘good’ stories. Seeing what their friends have read is great motivation.
After being in school for a month, the time has come.
Mrs. Cortez’s Book Club will officially begin next week. If you have ever thought of starting a book club with your students, just do it. Don’t hesitate. You will not be sorry.
I have been running a book club for the past 5 years with my 5th graders. Now that I have two periods, it might get a little crazy, but that’s ok. The pay off is too rewarding. I have the kids meet once a week before school. I select the first book which in the past has been Matilda, but since 4th graders read it last year, I changed it to Firegirl (an amazing book). The students then nominate and vote on the rest of the books we read for the year. *If a movie is made of the book, we usually schedule a time after school to watch it and compare it with the book. It’s awesome to hear the students say that the book is better than the movie, because that’s usually the case.
The students bring a mug for hot chocolate and we make a treat rotation schedule for doughnuts. I used to provide the hot chocolate, but that became too costly so now I ask the parents for donations. I pick up the slack when needed. And then…we just talk about the book. No assignments, no tests, no stress. Just a good book shared with good people. Amazing.
Until next time…
Click below to see the letter I send home to parents. Hope it helps so you don’t have to start from scratch.