Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nurturing Kids' Reading Hearts

A couple of days ago, I wrote this post about engagement. This resulted in a very nice conversation with Mary Lee, one of my blogging friends, and together we created a survey to give to kids. I'll be trying that out today, and am anxious to see what kids have to say. If you'd like to try that survey, email me, and I will shoot a copy your direction. 

When it comes to engagement, I think teachers have to take at least part of the responsibility. I truly believe that what we do directly impacts kids' reading engagement. So here is a survey for my reading teacher friends. Rate yourselves from 1-4. A 1 is something that is not much like you, you are not doing that yet. A 4 is a statement that is TOTALLY you. 

After you take the survey, star one area you are really proud of, then set one goal for something you are going to do better. 

Classroom Rituals and Routines
A) I have established a clear, tight, explicit routines for independent reading time (none of my reluctant readers are spending more time in the bathroom or "browsing in the library" than they are spending actually reading),
B) I have comfortable places for children to sit during independent reading time.
C) My reading conferences are quiet and unobtrusive. My voice does not distract kids or interrupt their reading time.
D) Record keeping and responding to reading do not take time away from actually reading. 
E) We have established ways for kids to share their reading with each other. 
F) We have structures/routines for kids to keep track of books they might like to read someday.

The Classroom Library
A) I have an extensive classroom library. 
B) The classroom library is the most attractive and comfortable part of our room.
C) The classroom library is organized in a way that is meaningful to children, they have no difficult finding the books they want, e.g. books in a certain series, or by a certain author. 
D) I add to the classroom library regularly. 
E) The classroom library contains books on a range of reading levels and topics. EVERY SINGLE CHILD can find books that are just right for him/her.
F) I use DRA levels as a tool for guided reading groups. They do not serve as the exclusive criteria for children's book selection.

Classroom Reading Instruction
A) Our classroom reading instruction focuses on strategies that make kids' better readers no matter what text they are reading, e.g. visualizing, what to do if you realize you don't understand, how to break apart and decode long words. 

Affective Environment
A) No child in our class reading community feels ostracized or embarrassed about their reading abilities.

My Knowledge of Children's Books
A) I actively seek to expand my knowledge of children's books by reading book reviews, blogs, and/or visiting bookstores. 
B) I read children's literature on an ongoing basis.
C) I make a point of seeking out new authors, titles, genre, and series.
D) I do book talks almost every day.

Supporting Struggling Readers
A) I build children's passion for books through a daily read aloud time. 
B) I select a variety of read alouds. Some are thinking books, too hard for kids to read alone, but not too hard to think about. Some are series or author series, selected to get kids interested in a particular author. Some are topic books, chosen because kids are interested or because I want to build background knowledge about a particular topic.
C) I monitor children's book choices and progress through books.
D) I help children, especially my struggling readers, choose books that interest them.
E) I jump start kids by reading the first chapter of their books aloud to them.
F) I do partner or buddy reading with my struggling readers, until they have the author's voice in their head. 
G) I have lots of series books in my class, and encourage students to use series.
H) I honor and encourage the rereading of favorite books.
I) I have a basket of "Old Friend" books, e.g. books like VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR and BROWN BEAR, BROWN BEAR, that we all read. 
J) We read poetry every day. Students have a poetry notebook they can use as backup reading during independent reading time. 

I'd love to hear what other people are thinking about this topic…


max said...

I grew up as a reluctant reader. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that girls and boys hate to put down. My web site is at and my Books for Boys blog is at

I also have a short story in a new book called Lay Ups and Long Shots, published by Darby Creek Publishing. It's a Junior Library Guild selection. I'm also featured in an article in the 2009 edition of Children's Writer Guide.

My other books are all ranked by Accelerated Reader

Max Elliot Anderson

Franki said...

Love this post--it isn't just one thing that creates a great reading environment! So many great ideas. thanks!

Lauren said...

Carol, I have referred back to this post several times since you published it. You always have the most wonderful insights, and I love that you share them here! *Almost* as good as stopping by your office/classroom for advice. :)