Seriously. Isn't it frustrating when they say "I can't find anything to read" as they stand in your library full of hundreds of books? Well, a few things have worked for my fifth graders. First, for those kids who just don't have a book checked out, it's all about hyping something up. Make it cool. How do you make it cool? Well, for this age, just make it out to be the book that all fifth graders will want to read. I do this with a book talk for my class. I gather up some books from my library, put them in a basket, and call my kids down to the carpet. Before I chose the books to bring down to the library, I make sure I know the "hook" for each one. What will get them psyched for it? Once I've got them down on the carpet, I talk about the books one by one. I read the blurb on the back or a few pages from the first chapter. I talk it up, and ask for students to volunteer their thoughts about it. After I do this for 5 or 6 books, and then leave them up at the front of the classroom to be checked out. Every time, without fail, the basket is empty by the end of the day. Win! I start book talks right when we get back to school. Now that my kids are used to the routine, I have them signed up to give book talks to the class. I still talk about one or two books, but I have a few students talk about a book they recently read, too! I ask them to make sure that it is a book that is available from our library, and they do have to hand in a few sentences ahead of time to show that they are prepared. Here are the guideline I give them:
- Make sure you pick a book that is REALLY good. One you want to rave about!
- Prepare ahead of time! Know what you are going to say. Limit yourself to 1 - 2 minutes of talking.
- Talk about the reasons you liked the book. How did it make you feel? What were you thinking? What scenes or characters were memorable?
- Don't give away the whole story!
I make sure that all the students will get a chance to do a book talk over the course of the term by asking them to sign up ahead of time. This also gives them plenty of time to prepare!
So, what about the kids that just don't know what to read now? Maybe they have one book that they absolutely loved, but can't find anything else like it. I am loving the website What Should I Read Next for kids like this!
It's so easy to use- and so far the results have been great. Ask your student what was the last book that they read that they really enjoyed. Then, go to the website and type in the name of the book.
Hit "enter" and watch the results line up!
In this case, the student ended up reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and she really enjoyed it. The only caveat with this comes with students who are stuck in a genre rut. You know- our friends who exclusively read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. These books are great for reluctant readers, but getting them to branch out into other types of books is the ultimate challenge!
So, what works for these types of readers in your classroom?