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January 18. 2018

How to Foster a Love of Reading Through Choice

We want our students to love reading books. We want them to go over to a book shelf, choose a book that interests them, and hurry to dive in. The ability to choose a book that interests them, as opposed to one that is assigned to them, is vital to growing that passion. Here are some ways you can foster that love through student CHOICE.

Do NOT level the classroom library

Choosing books by level is not an authentic way to choose books. It’s not how we, as adults, choose them, so why would they? The classroom library should include attractively displayed books in a variety of genres that reflect cultural sensitivity and relevance to the age group. They should be organized by topic, author, illustrator, genre, and award-winning books that are organized into baskets or bins with the titles facing out so that students can sort through them. Forcing students to choose books by their reading level puts limitations on them. If they want to choose a book that interests them, but may be a little too easy or too hard, let them. Never take a book out of child’s hands. 

Help them choose

Initially, students may not know how to choose books well, so you will want to teach them how to think about selecting a book that works best for them. By listening to them during book talks and read-alouds, you will get to know what their interests are and be able to make recommendations. Let them examine the cover, back cover copy, and illustrations, or sample a bit of text and let them get a feel for the author’s style. Think about how a book matches to your students’ own reading backgrounds and experiences and whether they would need to listen to an audio version or another person read it to them.

Include personal space in your classroom design 

Students are always searching for their own identity. In order to help them discover what they like or don’t like they need their own space. It can be an individual desk, a cubby, even just a personal box where they can store their personal documents, reader’s notebook, writer’s notebook, independent reading books, etc. Give them a warm, accepting environment to call their own where they can lose themselves in the book that they chose for themselves.

Fountas and Pinnell believe the choice is at the heart of what it means to become a confident reader. “If you have an opportunity to choose what you read, and then to talk about it with others, maybe to draw and write about it, it builds your sense of yourself as a reader and your self-efficacy as a reader. That’s where confidence really begins,” (Fountas and Pinnell). 

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November 14. 2017

Teacher Tip: Organizing Your Classroom for Independent Reading

Consider the following suggestions as you arrange your classroom for independent reading:

Choose a place in your classroom to create a classroom library. Shelves that accommodate book bins are ideal, with bins organized by genre topic, author, and interest for easy access and browsing by children. Organize the conferring cards in your resource area, so that you can quickly pull the appropriate cards to support your conferences with readers.

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

October 24. 2017

Teacher Tip: Help Students Make Good Independent Reading Choices

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2013 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

June 30. 2017

Here’s HOW to Order Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™

It's finally here! Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ is no longer just a glimmer in our eye. The beautiful books are NOW being printed and assembled with the lessons. It's getting ready to fill your shelves and enhance your instruction. More...