My students are engaged in independent reading when they first walk into the classroom and again during the day for another 20 minutes. Because of this, my students are expected to either have a book already prepared for the day or choose one from my large classroom library.
This past year, my students were readers. They loved to read. I thank their parents and former teachers for instilling a love of reading into them. But (isn't there always a but), no matter how much my students loved reading, there comes a time when they were stuck. You know what I mean. They come in, unpack their belongings, go back to the library to choose a book, and 15 minutes later they are still standing there! The conversation goes something like this:
T: "Britney, you're still standing back at the library? Choose a book quickly and walk back to your seat."
S: "Ok, Miss Ely."
T: "Britney, it's been another five minutes. Choose a book and get started."
S: "Ok, Miss Ely."
T: "Britney, choose a book, or I will choose one for you."
S: "But, Miss Ely, I can't find anything to read."
This is the point where I continue the conversation in my head, but I don't say anything. The voice in my head is saying, "You can't find a book? There are tons of books to choose from! You just went to the school library yesterday. You read those books already? I have more books stashed away for when the class gets tired of these book. I need to switch the books already?"
T: "Britney, what I hear you saying is that you are having trouble finding something to read that you are interested in."
S: "Yeah. I don't like any of these books."
T: "Have you tried reading this one about the magical beast that saves the princess? Many students love this book."
S: "I don't like reading about magic."
T: "Why don't you read the first chapter and if you don't like it, you can abandon the book."
Can you guess what my response is?
T: "Britney, give it a try now."
Britney goes back to her seat to read the first chapter. Later during independent reading, I notice she is still reading the book.
T: "Britney, I see you're still reading the book from this morning."
S: "Yeah, it's actually pretty good."
T: "Told you."
This is where I smile.
This was a reoccurring problem in my classroom. It wasn't that my students didn't love reading. They just didn't know what they liked to read. I even had students reading the same book over and over again. I mean, how many times can someone read The Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Entertaining book? Sure. Better literature out there? YES!
Luckily, pinterest saved me once again.
I call it Magical Musical Chairs with Books. Add the word magic to anything and you have the attention of a third grader (which is kind of ironic since Britney didn't like to read about it). You play just like musical chairs. Make a circle of chairs. On each chair, place a different book. Include chapter books, picture books, and books from different genres. Play the music. When the music stops, students find a chair. When they sit, put on a timer for 4 minutes. During those four minutes they read the book. Repeat. There are no winners or losers. The goal is to expose students to as many different types of books as possible. They won't know what they are interested in reading until they try different books.
Makes me think of my college days. I was not a reader. Sophomore year, my assignment in my Children's Lit class was to read a children's novel and create an interactive presentation. I was that person that rolled my eyes at adults who read Harry Potter. What adult would read a book about some kid with magical powers? Sounded ridiculous to me. However, being that I was studying to be a teacher, I thought I better read the first book since it was so popular with children. Well, I became a Harry Potter fanatic. That book and that assignment changed my reading life. I was hooked. I even stood outside of Barnes and Nobles at midnight with my best friend and her nephew at the age of 23 to buy the next Harry Potter book. It's true. I admit it. And sorry if I ever rolled my eyes at you if you read the series.
|Magical Musical Chairs with Books!|
Best of all.....Magical Musical Chairs with Books is fun. It's a game! Now don't get me wrong. This did not solve the problem of students saying "I can't find anything to read." However, it became a standard in my class that you must read the first two chapters of a book. If you don't like it after the first two chapters, then you can abandon it and try a new one.
Try it with your students. You won't be sorry you did.