Thursday, January 13, 2011

Home Reading: It's a Reader's Choice

Supporting Book Choice Through Read Aloud
The most recent read aloud is always a hot item in our classroom. Lately, everyone wants to be one of the first students to take home the newest books we read. I'm not sure, but I think they've even worked out their own systems for passing the books along to the next reader.

This morning was no different. Before I was able to hold up the morning read aloud up for students to see, hands were flying into the air.

Glancing at my students like I have no idea why everybody has their hand up I call on David. The book I am holding is "There Are NO Cats In Here" by Vivian Schwarz.

I'm just starting to win David over in reading. He began the year saying, "I don't like to read. I can't read." I've slowly proven to him that he very well can read. He likes books about sharks and only sharks, but I know he wants to be part of this reading community and everyone wants this book. This book is about something other than sharks, and it is a book he will be able to reread after hearing it in our read aloud. I would love nothing more than to see David take this book home.

"Can I take home that book today?" he asks pointing at the book in my hands. "You don't even know if you are going to like it," I joke. "I haven't even read it yet." David assures me he will love it so I tell him I will give it to him after we share it.

It's a Reader's Choice
In our classroom, students choose the book they want to take home to read each evening from our classroom library. As beginning readers I want them to have opportunities to practice their reading, but more importantly I want them to be develop a love of reading. For this reason, students choose the book they will take home each evening during Reader's Workshop. Books are checked out from our classroom library, student reading bags, table baskets, shared reading collections, and even student-authored texts.

After making a selection students record the book title and date on their booklog. This helps me to remember which book they have checked out for the evening. Students then place the book inside the folder (if it fits) for me to check at lunch. At lunch I walk quickly around and make sure the title they have written matches the book. The student booklog serves as a record sheet of the choices students have made.

Students take the book home to read and return it the next day. In the morning I will quickly walk around to check in books by initialing beside the returned title. Students put their books back in the classroom library; or pass them to a friend.

Benefits of Self-Selection
  • Students are motivated to read, select, and share books.
  • Students enjoy making recommendations to one another.
  • Students learn about authors.
  • Students discover a variety of genres and topics.
  • Students are better able to select books at the library or bookstore.
  • Students can talk about books.
  • Students learn to balance their reading (difficulty, genre, topic, etc.).
  • Students have choice.
  • Develops a community of readers.
  • Parents learn about book choice.

If you are interested in choice, you might want to read:


  1. Cathy~
    Great post! I am so fortunate to have you across the hall to share and borrow from daily! Student book selection has been such a "way of teaching," I can't remember what I did before, nor do I want too!

    It's so cute to watch the kids dart to the new books and kids "reserving" their turn with the favorite book. Just today one of my boys asked me to show him how he could reserve a copy at the public library!

    Great Pendeflex link, this is the most challenging part of book selections

  2. Thank you sharing the importance of student choice for reading and how you support reading at home. This topic is perfect for some current thinking I am doing, you must of read my mind.

  3. Deb, I love when students come in with a book they think I need to see. Fun!

    Mandy, thanks for the inspiration. It was our back and forth conversation that helped me to write this post. I've always wanted my students to have books to take home at night. I've wrestled with many systems, and have found this to be my favorite.

  4. What an inspiring post! Isn't there always an "only sharks" reader!? I've been terrible about not letting kids take home books for fear of never seeing them again. Thanks for driving home the point that this a great way to encourage readers to grow. I'll feel better about sending my library out with the Pendaflex poly folders and a check in/out system. I like how simple your system seems.

  5. Great post Cathy! It is so important to give students the opportunity to choose what they want to read, where they read and when they read. It makes reading authentic for them. Thanks for the shout out!

  6. Hi Cathy,
    Of course, I was pretty much jumping out of my chair screaming, "Yes! Yes!" before I even got to the bottom of the post. You are singing my song about choices for students! Then, the added bonus... you mentioned my blog on reading logs. Thank you for a great post and the mention. Nancy

  7. You get me re-excited about all the great things teachers can do with reading and writing! Your students are blessed to have you.

  8. I've been madly researching how to make reading workshop and home reading more connected to becoming a better reader. This is JUST what I needed to change. My kids hate the books I send home with them. Now I am going to let kids choose a book to take home each night. They are going to die with joy. Thank you for the many many things you do to help me. I really hope we get to meet one day.