All journeys have a starting place.
This is a weekly place to find books and tools
that you may use with readers
at the start of their independent reading journey.
Join in the conversation at #road2reading.
As you probably know, getting books into young readers hands and making sure they have what they need to become lifelong readers is a passion of mine. I've been thinking a lot about young readers, especially those who may be stiving in this area, dare I say, even struggling. Mixed in with my usual posts letting you know what fantastic books are out there, I'm also going to include some ideas you might want to use to help your readers - whether they are striving, struggling, or independent.
You know how there are some readers who want to read every book you hold up? You don't even need to book talk more than saying the title. Of course reading the back or inside flap helps, but there are enthusiastic readers who want their hands on every book that is shown (full confession, that is and was me. No surprises, I know). But other readers need some convincing. The little teaser those back/inside flaps give aren't enough to convince them to read a book. They need to be a bit more invested in the characters or the plot before they give the book a chance.
And then there are readers who fall for the supply and demand of a book. If they see other readers wanting to read a book, then that little push of peer pressure will encourage them to read the book too! That's why I love #FirstChapterFriday - it's more than a tease of a book and when you raffle a book off, it makes readers want the book even more!
Let me do a quick backtrack and explain what this day is! I'm not sure where the hashtag originated from, but it's easy to follow along and figure out, even if you aren't on social media. Every Friday (or really any day you want), the teacher picks a book - it can come from any library, it's just best if you can keep it for some time - and it can be a brand new book or something that has perhaps been collecting some dust. I take the time to show the cover and we do some noticings and some questions to get us thinking about the book. Then I read the back/inside flap - I always do these things because I want to model what readers do when they pick up a book for the first time. To consistently show and talk about this helps those kids who don't come naturally to a book with curiosity and wonderings. Next comes the good part - we read one chapter of the book. Sometimes if a book has really short chapters, we may read a few chapters. I have found that within one chapter of a book, usually the characters are introduced and we get a feeling about their initial character traits, we may get an understanding of the plot and we know the setting. Being set with this information can make the rest of the book so much more approachable for some readers. I also take the time to share if the book is part of a series or if it's a new to them genre, I can share some other books the students may want to check out. The teacher can raffle off the book for readers who are interested in reading the book. How the raffle looks is up to individual teachers. I like having kids write their name on post it notes and I pick names and write the order of readers on a longer post it note. I tuck that post it note in the back of the book, that way when a student finishes reading the book they can cross their name off and pass it to the next reader. It keeps the circulation going without me having to handle it. Finally... when I remember.... I share it on social media using #FirstChapterFriday.
So this whole process is easy enough but the best part to me is how I use it to get readers reading the books I know they need. I find myself constantly attracted to middle grade novels. I think they are so well written and I fall into the plot lines and love the characters so much. However, the more I work with 3rd and 4th graders, the more I understand that many of them are not ready for those books. I also see many of them are just like me, they see those pretty covers and gravitate towards them. I think they also see the more pages in a book, the more it elevates its status... even if they can't stick with books that are that long. So I take this day to celebrate the books that aren't as long. Some that aren't being picked up because they are shorter. Using that whole supply and demand thing makes these books very attractive. Really, they were attractive all along, they just needed some love. One of my favorite parts is seeing the readers who didn't get first pick in the lottery run to our school library or my classroom library to find the sequels! Have you noticed with many series you don't have to read them in order? So by showing one book in a series, you actually can get many books into hands of readers.
Here are some of the titles I've used this year in the third grade class I am in:
Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst
Microsaurs: Follow That Tiny-Dactyl by Dustin Hansen
Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream: Power Forward by Hena Khan
Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce
Stella Diaz Has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez
Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg
Jada Jones: Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons
Marty McGuire by Kate Messner
This is something I'll continue doing and encouraging teachers to try for a long time. Whether you choose to participate in the social media part is up to you. The important thing is getting some books into hands of ALL readers!