Helping Children Choose Good-Fit Books
By Joan Moser
We have tried many different ways to have children choose their good-fit books, here are some of our favorites:
1) First and foremost, we teach some form of the I-Pick Good-Fit Books lesson to our children every day for the first two weeks of school. Sometimes this lesson is as simple as asking a child to share the good-fit books in their book boxes. As the year progresses, we move to a weekly good-fit books review. Choosing well is a skill that takes some children a long time to master.
2) If children are allowed to enter the classroom before school starts, it is a great time for book shopping. They can do so independently or with our assistance, if necessary.
3) If we have a time to go to the library each week, we often split our class in half, sending one half to the library to have support from the librarian to find books in our school library. The other half of the group stays with us so we can support these children finding books in our class library. The following week, we switch the groups. This allows our children to get to know the two libraries with smaller numbers in their group. It is very powerful when the librarian uses the same I PICK language!
4) Each time we confer with students or meet with them in a small group, we talk about good-fit books. It becomes evident quite rapidly who is struggling to find books they love and can engage with and also books that are not too difficult. Once those children bubble up to the top, we make daily appointments with them at the start of Daily 5 and be sure to help check their book boxes for good-fit books so they are set for success. When we check-in with students frequently about their good-fit books, the process goes quickly.
5) Once children get the hang of how to use the I PICK method to choose their books they can make better use of their time browsing for a book. Perhaps our favorite way to provide browsing time comes from Kelly Yahr, a first grade teacher in Washington state. Once a week during one round of Daily 5, Kelly's children can check-in with "Shop for Books". They have the whole round where they are free to shop in the school library or classroom library. We think this is brilliant as it provides an extended period of time to look for books. After all, think about going into a bookstore, library or even looking at books online, it takes time to peruse, browse, and try out books to see if we like them.
We think it is important to remember that choosing a good-fit book is a necessary part of being a reader. We have found that if behavior seems to be a bit bumpy during Daily 5, we check to see if perhaps books need to be changed.
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