'Children in classrooms without classroom libraries read 50% less than children without such collections'
A diverse and comprehensive classroom library is essential for your classroom, especially for those students from homes where there is little access to what we call 'high success' or 'just right' books (98% accuracy or above). Involve your students in working out the categories of books and provide a range of reading levels within that category, so every student can have success. For example, a basket of Paul Jennings books can include the easier to read 'Rascal' series, plus his books for older readers. Have your class re-sort the book categories at the end of the term, so those Paul Jennings books may end up in a 'Funny Stories' basket etc. Include baskets with magazines, graphic novels, wordless picture books etc. The possibilities are endless!
Read aloud to your students every day, knowing that these books can often be above the decoding ability of your students, and inspire their imaginations, When you have finished reading a book to the class, place it in a 'Teacher's Choice' basket, which can be another category in your classroom library.
A classroom library can also include levelled books, but without the emphasis on the numbering system! The numbering system was only ever designed for teachers to match the readability of books to certain students. Unfortunately it has caused a great deal of grief in some cases as children compete (sometimes encouraged by parents) to read higher and higher levels without understanding and without the love of reading. Sadly, many students have never had the opportunity to develop good book selection strategies - something that should start in Reception and continue to be taught into the upper grades! They rely heavily on the numbering system to help them choose.
Have your students take 15 books to their table and narrow this down to 5. Model the strategies they can use to narrow down the selection (Max Kemp). Have them share the strategies that were successful.
A classroom library can look quite different from one classroom to another!
What is independent reading?
Plan for at least 20 minutes of independent reading a day. This is not just silent reading, it is reading where students have used good selection strategies to find a 'high success' book, and are held accountable for the reading they are doing e.g. they can demonstrate/share newly taught strategies in their book. The student and teacher are actively assessing his/her progress daily.
The teacher uses a gradual release of responsibility model:
- Teach a strategy through read aloud, or shared book.
- The student may have some guided practice in the new skill during shared book or guided reading, but will eventually have the chance to demonstrate proficiency 'on their own' independent reading time.
- This is also the ideal time for the teacher to hold 1:1 conferences where they truly get to know each child as a reader.
- Time is built in for students to talk about their reading regularly. Conversations about texts with peers improves comprehension and engagement with text. This is the most under-used, easy to implement element of instruction that provides measurable benefits in comprehension, motivation and language competence.
- Have your students act out their reading, draw and write.
What is a good routine for independent reading?
- Whole group mini-lesson or maxi-lesson (1 x a week)
- Independent reading (Daily x 15-25 minutes)
- Peer buddy reading (R-2, 2 x a week)
- Recording reading (Daily x 2 minutes)
- Talking/ sharing (Daily x 10 minutes)
- Writing about reading (Weekly x 20-30 minutes + part of daily share)
- Conferring: Reading/talking to an adult about reading (Fortnightly x 5 minutes per student)
What are some independent reading tools to use:
- Individual book box/wallet
- Collection of high success texts
- Class library/school library books
- Range of texts -literature/ inquiry texts
- Familiar texts
- 'Good Reader' charts etc.
- Reading log/ reading calendar
- Reading journal
- Poetry collection
- Texts written
- Class constructed texts
Make a 'Good Readers' chart for your classroom
For example (Year 2). Good readers know how to:
- Look at the picture
- Look at the starting letter
- Re-read and make the best guess
- Stretch the word
- Read on
ENJOY GROWING YOUR INDEPENDENT READERS!