Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We're almost two weeks into school, and reading workshops are in full swing. I've spent lots of time in classrooms talking to kids about just-right books. This fall, though, I'm approaching the whole "just-right" book thing a little differently. I'm spending lots and lots and lots of time talking about how people choose books they love, and book talking books I love, and just a little time talking about how you know if a book is just-right in terms of being something a person is actually able to read. I'm not spending nearly as much time talking about books that are too hard.

Here is the criteria for just-right book that a fourth grade class developed this week:

1) You enjoy reading the book. You are glad to pick it up. You don't want to quit reading when the timer goes off (at this point in the year we are still setting a timer for independent reading). You want to take the book home and read some more.
2) It might be a book by an author you love.
3) It might be a book in a series you love.
4) It might be a book a friend recommended.
5) It might be a subject you want to learn more about.
6) You can read most of the words on each page.
7) You have pictures in your head while you are reading.
8) You can hear the characters' voices while you are reading.
9) Sometimes you "talk" to the characters while you are reading.
10) You know what the book is about.
11) You can talk to friends about the book.

The longer I teach, the more I think that a teacher's most important job is to put a just-right book into every single kid's hands. I'm working hard at doing that this year.


Lauren said...
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Lauren said...

Sorry, I should have proofread before posting my comment... I love this. I struggle with how to explain 'just right' to include comprehension. It's not enough to ask, 'Can I understand what's happening?' because half the time they don't know! Kids (especially struggling readers) are so hung up on knowing the words, or using the 5-finger rule from earlier years in school. Your post gives me the language! I used it briefly yesterday during the closing of our reader's workshop, and today when I asked how they know they read a 'just right' book, some of my students mentioned hearing the characters' voices as they read. One even said she can't wait to bring the book home to read over the weekend. Yay!

Mr. McGuire said...

This is a great list. I am going to use it to build a list for my sixth graders in Reading Workshop.