Three Ways to Read a Book, Even in Fifth Grade


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When I started teaching fifth grade in my new classroom and school, I was enamored with the thought of introducing a new round of students to Daily 5. I believe the foundation lessons are some of my favorites because they propel us to show students what good readers do. One of the first lessons is Three Ways to Read a Book. As I was planning how I would start this lesson, I started feeling anxious that it really wasn’t for fifth grade, especially “read the pictures.” I thought my students would view this as something for little kids, and that it wouldn’t matter.

I have never been so wrong.

This year alone, I have referenced “read the pictures” more times than I can count! It has easily become a saving grace for my students. I started Jillian Heise’s project #ClassroomBookADay, in which we read a picture book every day for the enjoyment of books. What I have noticed during this time is how carefully we pay attention to the pictures, as evidenced by questions such as “Look at the way this character’s face shows their emotion.” “Did you notice the illustrator’s incredible use of colors?” “What did you notice about the use of background on this page?”

Tuning in to read the pictures has proved to my fifth graders, and myself, that the artwork that goes into these books is certainly not accidental but is purposeful, and that it should be read carefully, just like the text.

I know we will continually visit “read the pictures” this year, and I can’t wait to share with my students the many more experiences that pictures and illustrations bring to the text.

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