As a child, my friends and I would talk about the books that we were reading while we ate our PB&J at the lunch table and on the bumpy bus rides home. Something tells me I wasn’t your typical kid though. So, how do we get our students to discuss books? To share their favorites? To reveal why they abandoned a book?
Here are some things I’ve used in my classroom to encourage my kids to talk about what they are reading and to encourage each other to pick up a good book. As a result, a community of readers was created among my class.
1. Book Review Binder
When a student finishes a book, they fill out this quick book review from Rachel Lynette. All pages go into a binder in our classroom. It serves as a resource for the students, but also a way for me to track student reading and be aware of what each student enjoys.
2. Classroom Bookshelf
This idea came from Literacy for Big Kids and my students thought it was awesome! When they finished a book that they thought others would enjoy, they wrote the book title and author on the “spine” of the book and taped it on the shelf.
Here’s the completed door (before the fire marshal made me take it down):
You can grab the book spine templates for free here!
3. Teacher board
This board was so much fun to create! I printed out a picture of the cover of the book I was currently reading and hung it up on this board. My students would check every day to see if I had changed my current book. Most times, if I had, they requested to read that book next! They even started recommending books to me, just as I did for them.
This idea I haven’t actually tried yet. I saw it in a library at another school and knew I had to give it a whirl! Readers write their book recommendations on a fish template and place it in the fishbowl. If a student is in search of a good book, they reach into the bowl and pull out a title!
This idea came from DM’s book, The Book Whisperer. It is, by far, my favorite way to share books in the classroom. Each night, my students are required to read for 20 minutes. I don’t do book logs or questions or parent signatures. Those had no meaning for my students or myself.
Instead, we spend the first 5 minutes of class each day sharing a one-sentence summary of what we read the night before. I say “we” because I join in too! Each student is required to share a sentence. It is a great way for students to hear what others are reading and, more often than not, they find a book that they might enjoy.
If two students are reading the same book and one student is further along, the second student will cover his ears or run into the hall quickly. It’s fun to watch them look out for each other! Sometimes I track what they share, especially if I know they are struggling with finishing a book or finding a good fit. You can learn more about how I do Status of the Class here.
Please note that I did not utilize all of these ideas in one year, as that would be overkill and diminish my students love of reading. I have used 1 or 2 each year I have been in upper elementary. What have you used in your classroom to build a community of readers?