There may not be a secret to building strong readers, but there is definitely one key word that comes to mind when thinking about making life long lovers of reading! RELATIONSHIPS. I believe that building strong relationships with your students will help them love reading the way we (as teachers) love reading.
First, choose books that will help the students connect with you and connect with the other students. I am going to breeze through a few of my favorite books use at the beginning of the year! I have plenty more of course, but these have to be my all time favorites.
I always begin with “The First Day Jitters” by Julie Danneberg
“The First Day Jitters” isn’t a new book and chances are your students have heard it every year previous to the year you are teaching them. However, YOU will have a new take on the book. YOU will be able to tell your students about your first day as a teacher and your first day this year. The students do not really know you yet, so this is important. Shake those jitters out and open up to your students!
I also love reading “Enemy Pie” during the first week, sometimes even the first day. “Enemy Pie” doesn’t connect directly to the teacher usually but will help build community in the classroom. “Enemy Pie” allows for great discussion on how to problem solve with other classmates and how to deal with people that might not treat you with kindness.
Finally, I love these two books more than life itself! lol. “Amazing Grace” and “Oliver Button is a Sissy.” Holy Moly. First, they are great for comparing and contrasting…but I know we might not be there during the first week of school. If you haven’t read them, I won’t spoil it…but they are basically the same story with differing genders and races. Ahh, so great!
I always use these books for building confidence and teaching students that in our classroom, we have a risk free environment and they will be challenged!
Finally, after reading all of the books I love (and making sure the students know how much I love reading) I give the students my Reading Interest Inventory.
I developed this inventory while obtaining my Masters Degree as a Reading Specialist. One of the most important things to learn about your students is how they feel about reading and all of the different parts of reading (such as; do they like to read aloud, where do they like to read, what do they like to read, etc!) If you would like to do this Reading Interest Inventory with your students, just simply click the link and it will take you directly to the document.
I am a firm believer in collecting these thoughts and feelings from all of your students before the end of the first week of school. Then, spend some time analyzing the data (yes, these are data in the strongest form.) From there, you will be able to do things for your students that will build confidence in their reading and help them build on the foundation they have already started!
I know many are starting to work in their rooms and I hope these books and this Reading Interest Inventory will make your first week with students run a little more smoothly.
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