Saturday, April 12, 2008

Letting Students Choose Their Own Books Effectively

Popular literature among students isn't always what you, the teacher, thinks is the best choice to read. On my bookshelf, I haven't been keeping statistics, although I will be next year, in order to get some data on what books are being read. However, I do pay attention, and I can tell you that just because I keep all those Newberry Award winners up front, and all those books that I think are just great, it doesn't always mean they're being read the most.

Some of the more popular books among my collection are a series of Star Wars books I got through Scholastic, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, any graphic novel (I haven't been able to keep American Born Chinese on the shelf for more than a few minutes without someone grabbing it up), the Choose Your Own Adventure books (they're small books where kids pick the page they want to go to next), and of course, Goosebumps by R.L. Stine, of which I have probably 30 on the shelf.

Of course, anything students read can be a valuable opportunity. I can look back, and remember telling kids to put away their comic books or something along those lines in order to read a book I wanted them to read. Yes, teacher chosen literature is very important, if it wasn't, I wouldn't be constantly giving recommendations through this blog, but students should have some choice.

What I did this year was set some guidelines so students weren't only reading comics all year. It's been an interesting experience setting this up, but I've found that in my class of 20+ students, over 350 books have been completed so far this year, an average of over 16 books per student, which is actually very high. Although my goal this year was to pick quality books and focus on them instead of having each student read for quantity, this high number of books shows that students were reading all year, from one to the next, and that was another goal of mine, constant reading.